The CEO of Germany's Siemens AG, the largest industrial manufacturing company in Europe, and his heir apparently have widely contrasting views about the "visionary" in Tesla CEO Elon Musk, and this dissonance is fueling speculation all might not be well in Siemens’ C-Suite.

Josef "Joe" Kaeser, who has been Siemens CEO since 2013, is taking flak from German media and social media platforms for comments he made a few days ago about Musk's alleged "visionaries." Apparently not a big fan of the founder of Tesla and SpaceX, Kaeser tweeted in German, “Amusing opinions in our country: When a German chief executive proactively orients his company toward the future, he is regarded as ‘lofty’ and ‘philosophical’. When a pot smoking colleague in the United States talks about Peterchen’s moon ride, he is an admired visionary.”

Peterchen’s Moon ride, or more accurately, Little Peter's Journey to the Moon ("Peterchens Mondfahrt") is a popular German fairy tale about the adventures of a boy named Little Peter and his sister, Anneli, as they try to retrieve the missing sixth leg of a May beetle named Mr. Zoomzeman (or Herr Summsemann) from the Moon.

What's intriguing Germans is Kaeser tweeted this comment days after Siemens Deputy CEO Roland Busch, his heir apparent, described Musk as a “visionary.”

Busch's full tweet: "Great to meet w/ @elonmusk, a true visionary of our times. Talked about #FutureofMobility, rapid deployment of car charging enabling #electric mobility, advanced manufacturing & rocket engineering. We’re proud @Siemens’ #technology is supporting Elon’s most exciting dreams.”

Kaeser’s statement to the contrary sparked what might be called an enthusiastic debate on German social media. The innuendo he was indirectly criticizing his successor for bad judgment -- a sin for any CEO -- forced Kaeser to quickly clarify his comments.

“This is NOT AT ALL about Mr. Busch and/or Mr. Musk,” said Kaeser in an interview with German media.

Kaeser claims his aim in making what he says is this misconstrued comment was to draw attention to entrepreneurial spirit in Germany and the declining relevance of German companies.

Siemens has refused to comment on the simmering controversy involving Kaeser and Busch. Busch was appointed Deputy CEO only last September. Kaeser joined Siemens 38 years ago.

Joe Kaeser, Siemens CEO
Siemens Chief Executive Joe Kaeser speaks during a news conference in Berlin, on May 7, 2014. Kaeser met President Donald Trump and senior administration officials at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and sought support for reconstruction projects in Iraq and Syria. Reuters/Thomas Peter

Kaeser is famous, or infamous, for his outspokenness. He also has a reputation as a very hands-on executive.

When he was appointed CEO in 2013, Kaeser said his "declared aim is to put Siemens back on an even keel and create a high-performance team. Because as a team we’re hard to beat. The Siemens team will provide information on the further refinement of our company program and address the medium-term prospects and our vision for the company. You’ll see: there’ll also be a Siemens after 2014.”

As its new CEO, Kaeser said he'd pursue a more aggressive style of management than his predecessor. He described his management style as “a controlled offensive.”

Since becoming CEO, Kaeser has sought to return Siemens to its core values, and redevelop electrification, its core business. To attain this aim, he also made it clear Siemens would have to invest in new businesses and cut costs.