Herbert Diess was visibly proud when he presented the new Volkswagen ID3 to Tesla CEO Elon Musk seven months ago.
During a visit to Germany last year, Musk went to Brunswick in VW's home state of Lower Saxony to test the ID3, the German automaker's new Golf-sized full-electric hatchback. The ID3 is the first of a new generation of VW Group battery-powered cars with which the company aims to topple Tesla as the global EV sales leader.
Diess posted a selfie of himself and Musk after the event. Musk praised the ID3, and Diess beamed.
The mutual esteem has apparently existed for some time -- in 2015, Musk tried to poach Diess, who was then BMW's head of development -- to become CEO of Tesla.
Diess declined Musk's offer and instead joined VW as a management board member on July 1, 2015. Diess became VW's CEO in 2018.
Musk's offer was first reported by Business Insider on Tuesday. Sources with knowledge of the matter confirmed the report to Automobilwoche, a sister publication of Automotive News Europe, and to the German business daily Handelsblatt.
Tesla had already drawn up a contract for Diess that was ready to be signed, the sources said.
Musk wanted to hand over the CEO post to Diess so that he could concentrate on his role as Tesla chairman. At the time, the Tesla founder was still performing both functions.