Volkswagen’s CEO Herbert Diess isn’t intimidated by Apple, even though the tech company potentially has an electric car on the way.
“The car industry is not a typical tech sector that you could take over at a single stroke,” Diess said in an interview with German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. “Apple will not manage that overnight.”
For years, industry observers have speculated that Apple (AAPL) will release its own electric, self-driving car. That conversation was reignited in December 2020, when Reuters, citing unnamed sources, reported that Apple planned to produce a passenger vehicle by 2024.
In April 2017, Apple received a permit from the California Department of Motor Vehicles to test self-driving vehicles there.
“There’s just so much going on in [electric and autonomous vehicles] and connected tech,” Morgan Stanley analysts wrote in a note to investors in December 2020. “It is perhaps a fitting time of the world’s most valuable company to play its hand in the $10 trillion global mobility market.”
Volkswagen is also aiming to be a dominant force in the electric car field. The car company sold 231,600 battery electric vehicles in 2020, according to figures published by the company in January.
Although that’s less than half the number of sales Tesla made last year, it represents an increase of 214% on the previous year and shows Germany’s huge auto industry is beginning to mount a challenge to the leader in electric cars.
That’s why, when it comes to competition from Apple, “We are not afraid,” Diess told the German newspaper.
Even with the growing speculation, Apple has been quiet about its car ambitions, and the company still needs a partner for the iCar.