Volkswagen Auto Group CEO Herbert Diess met with a company supervisory board in September with a stern warning: a slow shift to electric vehicles from combustion engines could cost 30,000 company employees their jobs.
Diess has been the driving force behind the German auto giant’s shift to electrification. As competition continues to funnel into the European market, which Volkswagen has had success in thus far with its ID. family of vehicles, Diess has stated that the company must speed up its adoption of EVs, or else it may fall behind, which could lead to some terminations, Reuters said.
The issue seems to be highly scoped on the output of its current employees. Volkswagen’s 25,000 Wolfsburg Plant employees are producing 700,000 vehicles annually. However, Tesla’s Giga Berlin factory in Germany will manufacture 500,000 cars per year with around half the employees. Tesla plans to hire 12,000 workers at the new factory in Europe, with its output only being slightly less than that of Volkswagen’s.
Company spokespeople from Volkswagen have confirmed the VW AG CEO’s statements from the supervisory board meeting, only solidifying the fact that competition is real, it’s coming, and there is no mercy.
“There is no question that we have to address the competitiveness of our plant in Wolfsburg in view of new market entrants,” Michael Manske, a VW spokesperson, said. Explicitly referring to Tesla and other automakers that have entered the region, Volkswagen is aiming to reach the potential that other up-and-coming car companies have. “Tesla is setting new standards for productivity and scale in Grunheide,” Manske added. Giga Berlin will have some of the most high-tech engineering and manufacturing designs for the European plant. Tesla plans to produce a Model Y every 45 seconds at the plant, amassing between 5,000 and 10,000 units every week.
How Volkswagen plans to combat its potential wave of layoffs isn’t set in stone yet. “A debate is now underway, and there are already many good ideas. There are no concrete scenarios,” Manske concluded.
Members of the Volkswagen Workers Council state that they would not make a statement on Diess’ remarks. However, one spokesperson stated that “a reduction of 30,000 jobs is absurd and baseless.” Lower-Saxony Union spokespeople said that 30,000 job cuts were “out of the question.”
Volkswagen’s Wolfsburg plant is the largest globally, with over 50,000 employees.