Johann Jungwirth, or J.J. to his American friends, has seen the car industry from all the angles that matter today. He worked for Mercedes-maker Daimler, then moved to Apple, where he worked on “special projects”, which is widely assumed to mean “self-driving cars”. He certainly picked up the easy manner of Silicon Valley from that time.
But in 2015, he returned to Germany, and to VW, headquartered in Wolfsburg, where he still follows his dream: to bring driverless cars onto actual streets where they can save and improve actual lives of real people. And perhaps to save the fate of his employer, VW, currently mired in a scandal involving a decidedly old technology: Diesel engines.
Our editor-in-chief, Andreas Kluth, caught up with J.J. in Sölden, Austria, at the top of a mountain inside Ice Q, a restaurant where the James Bond film “Spectre” was filmed. In their chat, J.J. and Andreas did much less damage to the facilities than Daniel Craig did. And they covered the whole landscape of driverless cars: the human angle, the regulators’ point of view, and the business case, including the threat of disruption to the German car brands. Here is the full talk.