German automaker Volkswagen is airing warning signals amidst high costs and low productivity at its vehicle plants, which one executive says has made the company’s main brand fall behind the competition.
On Monday, Volkswagen Group announced plans for a $10 billion euro (~$10.9 billion) cost-cutting measure at the VW brand, including job cuts, in a statement from managers to staff, according to an Automotive News report. The statements followed brand chief Thomas Schaefer’s warnings, in which he said the brand was “no longer competitive.”
“With many of our pre-existing structures, processes and high costs, we are no longer competitive as the Volkswagen brand,” Schaefer said during a staff meeting in Wolfsburg.
In the past, Volkswagen has shared similar warnings, though the automaker previously said it wouldn’t carry out plans for the staff reductions until 2029.
During the Monday meeting, however, VW human resources board member Gunnar Kilian said efforts to reduce staff would primarily be conducted through partial or early retirement offers. The vast majority of the savings, Kilian explained, would come from cost-cutting measures other than job cuts, and the company plans to share more details by the end of 2023.
“We need to finally be brave and honest enough to throw things overboard that are being duplicated within the company or are simply ballast we do not need for good results,” Kilian said.
Late last month, Volkswagen announced as many as 2,000 job cuts at Cariad, its software unit. In September, reports suggested that VW would be reducing headcount at its Zwickau factory by as many as 2,500 workers.
The automaker is also set to work with Austria-based manufacturer Magna Steyr on its Scout Motors re-brand, with an order for roughly 450 million euros ($492 million). Volkswagen Group CEO Oliver Blume also said earlier this month that he believes the 20,000 euro (~$21,987) EV will be coming in the second half of this decade.
Despite seeing increases in EV deliveries this year, Volkswagen’s EV sales still fall far behind those of dominant market leader Tesla. The Tesla Model Y is expected to become Europe’s best-selling vehicle this year, if not the world’s top-seller soon after.