The big three German automakers (BMW, Daimler and VW Group) make no secret of their plans to launch tens of electric vehicles by the middle of next decade.
Still, they have very few electric cars on sale today. Furthermore, those that are available (or will be soon) haven’t become segment leaders. That’s something that seems to bother Peter Altmaier, Germany’s Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy. More specifically, the official hates the fact that Tesla has got the upper hand on German automakers when it comes to EVs.
At a panel on artificial intelligence, Altmaier asked the head honchos from Daimler and VW Group a brutal question.
“I really wonder when you, Mr. Zetsche, or you, Mr. Diess, or Mr. Krüger of BMW will be able to get an electric car build, which is only half as sexy as one by Tesla,” Mr. Altmaier (pictured below) was quoted as saying by Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.
With regard to the design of German electric vehicles, Altmaier also told the executives they “could actually come up with some fresh ideas.”
Present at the event held in Berlin last week, Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche and VW Group CEO Herbert Diess couldn’t (or didn’t want to) come up with an answer. As for BMW CEO Harald Krüger, he was lucky not to attend the panel.
While styling is a matter of personal preference, Altmaier’s remarks are a bit unusual in a country where politicians and big business leaders rarely criticize one another publicly. The minister didn’t elaborate on the matter but his distaste of German EVs might have something to do with early models derived from combustion-engined cars.
Vehicles like the VW e-Golf and Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive look almost identical with their conventional counterparts. The BMW i3 is the exception, but the minister doesn’t seem to like it either — even though the official abbreviation for the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy he runs is… BMWi.