A few days ago, Herbert Diess, CEO of Volkswagen Group, shared some thoughts on LinkedIn. He led with what the Independent Compliance Monitor, Larry D. Thompson, said: “Volkswagen is a better company after the scandal.” Diess said that he agreed and that he was proud of the big change that has been made during the last five years since the diesel cheating scandal hit the news.
“Today is an important day for all 670.000 workers of Volkswagen AG: After we have implemented hundreds of new policies and changed the way we operate the US Department of Justice gave us positive feedback in line with Larry Thompson’s certification. I want to thank Larry D. Thompson for his impressive work, he helped us to get in the right direction and pushed forward important changes in our big and complicated structures. I want also to thank Hiltrud Dorothea Werner and the entire team for the tremendous commitment to supporting the Monitor and his team, and for her important substantive contributions in setting up the compliance and integrity organization in our Company. But — and also here I agree with Larry D. Thompson: ‘Volkswagen should never ever forget the diesel scandal’,” Diess wrote.
He also wrote that he encourages employees and management to voice their concerns when goals aren’t able to be achieved as well as express criticism and share any concerns. “For me, this is what success is based on — a culture of positive contradiction!”
The Associated Press reported that Volkswagen completed supervision by the independent monitor that was imposed as part of its plea agreement with the U.S. Justice Department for its part in the diesel emissions scandal. Volkswagen said that the company has worked with Larry D. Thompson since 2017 to “design and implement compliance programs aimed at preventing behavior like that evidenced by the scandal.” In a statement, Volkswagen said that the steps taken during the monitoring period included a uniform code of conduct across all its businesses, an expanded whistleblower system, and establishing a top-level compliance committee.
Sometimes, when one falls, it’s pretty hard to get back up. However, Volkswagen is doing that. It has to if it wants to survive in this new world where electric vehicles are in demand. Speaking of electric vehicles, Tesla’s Elon Musk met with Diess on his trip to Germany earlier this month. He even drove a Volkswagen ID.3. Diess is clearly a fan of Elon Musk and has praised him publicly a few times. In July, Diess said “Elon Musk delivers results that many did not think possible. They show: you can be profitable with electric cars. As one of few car manufacturers (Porsche AG also, for example), Tesla will drive through the corona crisis without a quarter of losses.”
Although Diess pointed out that there was “no deal in the making,” one can assume that Elon Musk could — whether intentionally or not — influence Volkswagen in a positive way. Elon’s had that effect on many people, whether they are CEOs of large corporations or writers in a bayou state. That aside, it’s clear that Volkswagen is trying to reinvent itself.
Environmental Role Model
On its sustainability page, Volkswagen expresses its desire to become an environmental role model — a model company that delivers mobility for everyone globally while minimizing its impact on the environment. When one thinks of environmental role models, Volkswagen does not often come to mind. But the more it electrifies its fleet, the more it will.
Some of the supposedly green projects Volkswagen is taking on are natural gas projects, demonstrating that there’s still a problem of full honesty and marketing. In 2020, there is nothing environmentally friendly about a natural-gas engine. However, Volkswagen also has some of the more ambitious electrification plans and investments to back theme up.
Most importantly, every electric car, Tesla or otherwise, matters to the environment we all share. Every time someone chooses electric, the future gets a little bit brighter!
If not Tesla, please take a look at these other options:https://t.co/FZVNlGWYgA
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 26, 2018
While a sleek website and heartwarming blog posts are a great way to rebrand one’s corporate identity, and while Volkswagen is working to electrify more models, I feel that Volkswagen still has a long way to go. Whether or not Volkswagen stays on the path is another issue altogether. I have hope, though. It seems that Diess’ stance on Elon Musk and Tesla shows that he is willing to listen to those who do care about the environment — and one of the most vocal people who cares about our world and is doing something significant about it is Elon Musk.
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