The tirade carried a seemingly agitated tone, in stark contrast to Mueller's careful presentation of statements involving the diesel emissions scandal.Apparently agitated by the media's infatuation with Tesla, Volkswagen CEO Matthias Mueller has finally declared how he really feels about the California-based upstart.
Reacting to a German talk-show host's mere mention of how Tesla 'fascinates' buyers with its electric cars, Mueller launched into a tirade that characterized Tesla as an over-hyped amateur automaker that can't make a profit and maintains an overblown reputation for social responsibility.
"There are companies that barely sell 80,000 cars a year. Then there are companies like Volkswagen that sell 11 million cars this year, and produce a profit of 13 or 14 billion euro," Mueller said, as translated by the Daily Kanban. "If I am correctly informed, Tesla each quarter destroys millions of dollars in the three digits, and it willy-nilly fires its workers. Social responsibility? Please. We should not get carried away and compare apples with oranges."
The executive is correct in stating that Tesla burns lots of cash, reporting a $336 million net loss in the second quarter of 2017. Such results are not unusual for young companies that are more focused on growth than immediate short-term profitability, however, and Tesla has had no problem raising the capital.
Mueller's disgust over Tesla's reputation for social responsibility will undoubtedly raise a few eyebrows, as VW Group is still dealing with the fallout from selling millions of vehicles that were illegally programmed to emit much higher levels of hazardous pollutants than regulations allow.