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Volkswagen CEO: Cars will only be accepted in cities in future if space given to bikes

“Many of our employees would like to get to work by bike instead of by car,” says auto giant’s boss

Volkswagen Group’s CEO has said that cars will only be acceptable in towns and cities in future if space is also made available for people on bikes.

In a post on LinkedIn, Herbert Diess – who last month described “a car used for private or business purposes” as “one of the world's worst-utilised assets” –  also highlighted some of the steps the vehicle manufacturer has taken to make it easier for employees to travel to and from what is the world’s largest car factory in Wolfsburg, Lower Saxony.

“Cycling is fun, healthy and good for the environment,” wrote Diess. “In overcrowded urban centres, the car – including the emission-free e-car – will only be accepted in the future if the bike has enough space in the mobility mix.”

“Wolfsburg has an excellent network of cycle paths around the factory and to the factory gates and parking lots,” he continued.

“Many of our employees who live in the factory area would like to get to work by bike instead of by car. Even more, if you can ride your bike straight to your workplace.

“For five years Steffen Knipping and Torsten Gailus [the Volkswagen employees who have led campaigning efforts for better links for cyclist in and around the factory] wanted to create the conditions for this.

“In a dialogue with plant management and the works council, they advocated access to the plant by bike – now 500 colleagues can finally cycle in a pilot project right up to the workplace in the plant.

“Thank you for your commitment, congratulations on your success,” he added.

“Hopefully, the pilot project can soon be expanded so that all employees who feel like doing it can cycle straight to their workplace.”

Diess, who joined a number of employees on a ride to celebrate the launch of the initiative to encourage more employees to cycle to work, took to a bike to explore the vast site when he was appointed CEO of Volkswagen’s car division in 2015 (he’s to the left of the photo above, in black with the bike with the front light lit).

There’s little doubting his enthusiasm for cycling – last month, he posted to LinkedIn about a day spent in the Bavarian Alps testing new e-bikes from Porsche and Ducati, both brands owned by the Volkswagen Group.

Diess succeeded Matthias Müller as group CEO after the latter was ousted by the board in April 2018 following the high-profile ‘dieselgate’ scandal regarding manipulation of engine emissions data that has engulfed the company in recent years and which continues to hamper any efforts to try and push environmental credentials.

In 2019 , he was one of three Volkswagen executives charged by prosecutors in Germany with market manipulation, although his lawyer said at the time that since Diess only joined Volkswagen from BMW Group in July 2015, he would not have been aware of the extent of the emissions scandal.

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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