Volkswagen is neck and neck with Toyota as the world’s largest carmaker.
The German company, which gave us the beloved Beetle last century, raked in over $250 billion last year, selling nearly 9 million cars.
Still, it can feel more like an obstacle course than victory tour for Herbert Diess, who’s been running Volkswagen for the last four years.
The vast majority of the cars he sells run on gasoline – a growing problem for the planet and now – to drivers’ wallets. But his most immediate problem is Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, just a few hours east of Volkswagen’s headquarters.
Volkswagen is feeling the repercussions of the war in Europe. In March, Ukraine was forced to shutter factories that made cabling systems so essential to Volkswagen that CEO Herbert Diess had to idle several assembly-lines in Germany.
Lesley Stahl: What did they supply you with that you’re not getting?
Herbert Diess: Most of it, wiring harnesses and electrics– electronics components.
Lesley Stahl: Are those key? How has that affected–
Herbert Diess: Some are really key, some are really key.
Lesley Stahl: So you’re taking a hit?
Herbert Diess: Definitely we are taking a hit. Yeah.
They’re taking another hit to their business because, to help sanction Putin, Diess suspended Volkswagen’s operations in Russia.
Lesley Stahl: How concerned are you that Putin might seize your factories?
Herbert Diess: It’s very difficult to understand the situation. I think it will depend a lot on how far are we getting back to negotiations.
Lesley Stahl: Volkswagen pulled out of Russia very early. I wonder how hard a decision that was for you.
Herbert Diess: It is quite a hard decision for us because we have about 7,000 people — loyal people working for us in Russia. We have three plants there. We have customers since many years, so it’s very difficult decision. But strong sanctions are probably the only measures we have currently, because what we see in Europe is really an appalling war.