Volkswagen Group CEO Herbert Diess said cash-rich technology giants invading the auto industry pose a much bigger challenge for the automaker than traditional rivals such as Toyota.
"We look forward to new competitors who will certainly accelerate the change in our industry and bring in new skills," Diess said in a LinkedIn post when asked about reports that Apple is developing a self-driving car.
"The unbelievable valuation and the practically unlimited access to resources instill a lot of respect in us," Diess said.
Diess, 62, received a fresh vote of confidence from the VW supervisory board this month to make the sprawling industrial conglomerate more nimble after internal wrangling had spooked investors.
Diess mapped out a plan during an internal meeting last week to pit VW’s huge Wolfsburg plant against Tesla's factory that is under construction outside Berlin.
Tesla's new site in Gruenheide is bound to stoke competition for engineers, workers and customers on VW’s home turf.
"I have said it before: the most valuable company in the world will again be a mobility company," Diess said. "It could be Tesla, Apple or Volkswagen."