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Elon Musk: What I’d do if I was running VW

Tesla CEO reveals how he’d handle the VW emissions crisis if he was named boss

Elon Musk

Tesla boss Elon Musk has told Auto Express that VW should commit to a greener future to make up for its emissions crisis. Speaking at the opening of Tesla’s first factory outside of the US in Tilburg, Netherlands, Musk said: “If I was taking over VW, I’d go the other way and aim to be a leader [in clean vehicles].

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“Maybe the path to redemption is towards clean vehicles.”

VW emissions scandal: all you need to know

Musk also said that car companies should go electric, or die. “All car companies will go electric eventually,” he said. “Any car company that doesn’t go electric will be out of business.”

Speaking specifically about the VW scandal, Musk commented: “With hydrocarbon combustion we’ve hit the limits of physics – improvements are very tiny. There must have been lots of VW engineers under pressure – they’ve run into a physical wall of what might be possible so trickery was the only option.”

Commenting on emissions testing, Musk said that he thought emissions testing needed to be more realistic and more rigorous and that it should include testing cars over a longer period. “Cars are best when they’re new,” he said. “There’s massive degradation over time.”

At the factory opening, Musk also confirmed that a UK research and development base was still on the cards. “Yes, we’re looking at more engineering and production activity in Europe,” he told us. “And there’s a good likelihood of an engineering base in the UK. We should be starting to look at locations in the UK next year."

Read all about the VW diesel scandal here.

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Editor-in-chief

Steve Fowler has been editor-in-chief of Auto Express since 2011 and is responsible for all editorial content across the website and magazine. He has previously edited What Car?, Autocar and What Hi-Fi? and has been writing about cars for the best part of 30 years. 

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