If the Geneva motor show has taught us one thing, it is that the car industry is undergoing some pivotal changes, not least of which is the VW Group’s attempts to position itself as a pioneer in electro-mobility - a subject a year ago it appeared none-too-ethusiastic about.
But in its rush to develop its own technologies beyond what its rivals are offering - not least of which the so-called 500km, 15-minute charge family car exclusively revealed by Autocar – I wonder if it isn’t missing a trick by simply turning to the company it keeps referencing as an inspiration in its new-found goals.
I refer, of course, to Tesla, which more than one VW executive, from CEO Matthias Müller down, has referenced in the past two days as an example of how to think quickly and act with decisiveness in the electric car market.
What form this could take is a moot point, however, so please forgive the total conjecture that follows.
Impending fines aside, it’s possible the VW Group could just buy Tesla and swallow it whole. Tesla's assets are said to be worth around £6bn, and its annual turnover around £2bn. VW's assets are said to be worth £200bn, and its annual profits around £7bn. The positive PR from the car industry’s most toxic brand buying its most evangelical one would cover a large proportion of the cost. But I find this unlikely.
Better, surely, for the two sides to join forces in some kind of two-way equity deal? That way Elon Musk and his troops win on all fronts, gaining worldwide glory for leading VW to salvation and - perhaps most importantly - access to VW’s mass manufacturing facilities that might turbocharge its hopes of making its pioneering Model S, Model X and Model 3 at large enough profits to sustain growth in the company.
It would be a fine moment for Musk, too, who could cash in to some degree, all the while attaining even greater legendary status, not just as the most pioneering businessman of a generation, but also as an environmental visionary. Nor must it mean the end of his tenure at Tesla - some form of leadership role both there and steering VW’s strategy would surely reap dividends on both sides.
Meanwhile rather than Tesla, which let’s not forget has previously sold equity to Toyota and Mercedes (before they, in turn, sold out), take on the might of the established car makers alone, a deal with VW would give it stability and security at exactly the time it needs it, ahead of massive investment in technology and manufacturing plants. It's notable, too, that the US emissions authorities are already reported tohave suggested to VW that one route to semi-redemption (or at least avoiding some of the potential fine) is to build electric cars in the US.