FRANKFURT — The drama that played out in recent weeks at the highest levels of Volkswagen Group can be explained with these two facts:
1. VW is in the midst of a generational shift toward a fully carbon-neutral business over the next 30 years.
2. The software-enabled, zero-emission vehicles favored by CEO Herbert Diess will have a dramatic effect on employment at the German behemoth.
In the end, the warring factions reached a tentative cease-fire over the future of the transformation plan and its embattled architect, Diess.
With no clear succession, investors feared his potential departure would paralyze the carmaker. That could have created a power vacuum that risked torpedoing the CEO's ambitious strategy and enveloping the company in further internal strife.
Supervisory Board Chairman Hans Dieter Pötsch brokered the truce that strengthened the hand of his CEO, whose ambitions include finally achieving a profit for the core VW brand in the U.S. in 2021, six years after the diesel emissions scandal erupted.
The detente last week at a Supervisory Board meeting followed renewed clashes with labor leaders after the historic home plant in Wolfsburg was left last month once more without clear prospects for the zero-emission future. That was unacceptable to directors representing both VW's home state of Lower Saxony and its trade unions.