Tesla boss test drives VW's ID.3

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Is Tesla going to play nice with VW in future?

Elon Musk has never reserved any diplomacy when referring to legacy car companies. The billionaire technology entrepreneur and electric vehicle visionary has called the traditional car industry’s bluff and won.

With Tesla’s share price making it the world’s most valuable car company and strong global demand for his products, Musk is in a position to be gloriously indifferent to the broader car industry. But as he is seemingly enveloped by success, a trace of humility might be showing.

For Tesla, commercial success is important but the company’s greater goal is a cleaner environment, without having to sacrifice personal transport and enjoyment. And Musk has realised that his revolution in this regard, cannot be an army of one.

VW has invested enormously in its electric vehicle architecture and battery technology, making it by far the most committed traditional car company, with regards to an electrified future. The Germany auto giant’s CEO, Herbert Diess, has expressed open admiration for Tesla’s technology and on a recent visit to the American brand’s new Berlin factory, Musk made a detour.

The Tesla corporate jet also made a stop at Braunschweig Airport, near Wolfsburg. VW has its own dedicated terminal here, to facilitate expeditated travel for its executives and engineers. Musk was met at the terminal by Diess and went for a drive in an ID.3, the electric car which VW is due to launch soon.

After a short test drive, Diess fielded questions about the ID.3’s technical specifications before Musk had to depart, in keeping with his crushingly demanding schedule.

In a world where Tesla’s share price and market influence can often move, merely by Musk’s social media behaviour or a video recording of him doing anything, this meeting is potentially symbolic. Whilst Tesla shows no interest in partnering with any legacy car companies, Musk’s brief drive in VW ID.3 could be the start of something.

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