Volkswagen wants to accelerate its transition to electric cars to be able to compete with Tesla

The executive director of Volkswagen, Herbert Diess, told a board of directors meeting last September that the company could lose 30,000 jobs if the transition to electric vehicles was too slow, two sources with knowledge of the matter told Reuters on Wednesday.

Competition from new entrants to the German market, such as Tesla, has pushed the company to accelerate its transformation, Diess told attendees.

The American electric vehicle maker plans to produce 500,000 cars a year in Germany with 12,000 employees, while the 25,000 of Volkswagen they produce just 700,000 units at their Wolfsburg plant.

A company spokesperson confirmed Diess’s position that the presence of Tesla and others in Germany increased the urgency of transition to electric vehiclesBut he denied that specific calculations had been made on how many jobs could be lost in the process.

“There is no doubt that we have to address the competitiveness of our plant in Wolfsburg in view of the new entrants to the market,” said the spokesman for Volkswagen, Michael Manske, pointing to Tesla and to the new Chinese automakers making their forays into Europe.

“Tesla is setting new standards for productivity and scale at Grünheide,” he said, referring to a factory of Tesla under construction near Berlin that at its maximum capacity will produce between 5,000 and 10,000 cars a week, more than double the German production of battery electric vehicles in 2020.

The debate is on and there are already many good ideas. There are no concrete scenarios, “Manske said.

Diess’s statement was first reported by the Handelsblatt newspaper.

A spokesperson for the workers council of Volkswagen He said that, although they did not comment on whether Diess had made those remarks, “a reduction of 30,000 jobs is absurd and without foundation.”

Another union spokesperson from the Lower Saxony region, which is the second largest shareholder of Volkswagen, said such cuts were “out of place.”

The electric vehicles they have far fewer parts than a car with an internal combustion engine and therefore require fewer workers to manufacture. By one estimate, 100,000 jobs could be lost in the German car industry by 2025 as a result of electrification.

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