VW CEO says he’s looking forward to ‘new competitors’ as Apple Car rumors circulate

It’s hard to argue with the power of an Apple rumor. Even if nothing ever comes of it –remember the Apple TV set?– the market usually starts to expect its arrival anyway. And, of course, CEOs of other companies that might have to start competing with Apple directly are asked whether or not they’re ready for the competition.

Take, for instance, the chief executive of Volkswagen, Herbert Diess. In a LinkedIn post, which was first spotted by iMore, Diess responded to a question regarding the rumored Apple Car. That question cites a report from earlier this month that sets Apple’s debut for its first vehicle sometime in 2024. Diess responded in a way you might expect, saying he welcomes “new competitors” to the market:

We are looking forward to new competitors who will certainly accelerate the transformation of our industry and bring in new skills. The incredible evaluation and thus the virtually unlimited access to resources inspire us a great deal of respect. A real challenge – dimensions greater than those within our industry (e.B. Toyota Motor Corporation ) As I have already said, the most valuable company in the world will once again be a mobility company – it Tesla can, Apple or may be Volkswagen AG called. (Translated)

Diess’s answer here isn’t just the safe bet, but probably one where he’s being genuinely honest. Competition isn’t a bad thing, even if Apple is a company that tends to disrupt industries and jump to the head of the pack rather quickly. That isn’t necessarily a guarantee in any market, but especially not in the automotive one. But seeing Apple enter the fray, along with plenty of other upstarts leaning into electric vehicles, just means the old guard companies like Volkswagen will have to find new ways to keep their market share (or even gobble more up).

Apple, for its part, is rumored to start playing hardball right out of the gate, at least as far as features are concerned. That Reuters report from earlier this week said Apple will adopt a “monocell” battery with “next level” technology that will greatly improve overall distance in the Apple Car.

However, it’s worth noting that Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, says this is “electrochemically impossible“, and suggests Apple may use a structural battery pack –with cells bonded together– instead. In a subsequent tweet, Musk also said he tried to sell Tesla to Apple years ago, but the company’s CEO, Tim Cook, wouldn’t even take the meeting.

This is absolutely not the first time that we’re hearing about the Apple Car, but it certainly feels like things have shifted towards “might actually be happening” with that Reuters report. But there’s no guarantee anything will actually happen. Apple may just build software for autonomous vehicles, rather than launching its own-branded vehicle.

We’ll just have to wait and see.