Volkswagen Group CEO Herbert Diess warned that the shift away from Russian energy isn't happening fast enough to shield the German automaker from a sudden stop in natural-gas deliveries.
VW will keep the ability to run its power plants with coal instead of gas because of Germany's reliance on Russian imports, Diess said in an interview for the Qatar Economic Forum in Doha.
While progress has been made sourcing liquefied natural gas from the U.S. and other nations, building up the necessary infrastructure will take time.
“It's going probably not fast enough” to cope with a major disruption, Diess told Bloomberg Television's Anna Edwards. “In the long run, I'm sure that we become independent from Russian gas.”
Diess has spearheaded major changes at VW to make the manufacturer more agile and challenge Tesla as the leading maker of electric vehicles. The company has introduced new battery-powered models, is moving ahead with a plan to add an EV factory close to its Wolfsburg headquarters and is building up a comprehensive battery supply chain.
While the war in Ukraine, rising interest rates and inflation all weigh on investors' risk appetite, Diess said he's not yet seeing demand destruction in the automotive sector. VW has EV orders lined up for “roughly one year” and is optimistic it will achieve its targets for 2022.
“We don't see customer demand going down currently, but that might change,” he said.