VW CEO Says It Must Shift to EV Production Faster

Climate scientists agree that the world needs to shift away from internal combustion vehicles and switch to EV production. However, there may be reasons to switch to EVs beyond environmental protection. Electric vehicles may add a needed boost to the economy as well, according to Volkswagen’s CEO.

Volkswagen CEO believes slowing the switch to EV production could cost 30,000 jobs

The Volkswagen ID4 is one of the company's first EVs. However the VW CEO warns that the brand needs to switch to 100% EV production as fast as possible.
Volkswagen ID.4 | Volkswagen AG

According to a Reuters report, Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess warned that the automaker could lose 30,000 jobs if it moved too slowly in transitioning to 100% EV production during a recent supervisory board meeting.

The warning comes from the CEO as other automakers such as Tesla are moving into the German market. If the competition gets a foothold, then VW could lose jobs to its rivals. Other automakers such as Rolls-Royce are promising to switch to 100% EV production within the decade. Different governments around the world are also pushing for more EVs on the roads.

Automakers who fail to move on this market trend may not recover. Diess wants Volkswagen to speed up its transition to EV production as not to be left behind.

Tesla has aspirations to reach the production of 500,000 cars a year with 12,000 autoworkers. Currently, Volkswagen builds 700,000 cars with 25,000 employees at its Wolfsberg factory.

A Volkswagen spokesperson confirmed the CEO’s comments to Reuters and expressed the genuine concern that the German automaker needs to accelerate its pace of EV production to stave off competitors like Tesla.

“There is no question that we have to address the competitiveness of our plant in Wolfsburg in view of new market entrants,” said Volkswagen spokesperson Michael Manske. “Tesla is setting new standards for productivity and scale in Grunheide,” Manske added.

Tesla is on the verge of opening a new plant in Berlin, Germany

Aerial view of Tesla's new factory in Berlin, Germany.
Tesla Gigafactory Berlin | Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Just a few days before this story broke, it was reported that Tesla had finished building a brand new assembly plant in Berlin, Germany. The factory was built in that location to serve the European and Asian markets better.

During an opening festival on the factory site, Tesla CEO Elon Musk told a crowd of employees and fans that the factory in Berlin might start rolling out vehicles as early as November 2021. At the same time, Musk also acknowledged that getting EV production started was the easy part.

The difficult task for the Berlin factory would be reaching volume production targets. Musk stated that “hopefully” the new facility would reach production of 10,000 cars per week by the end of 2022.

Volkswagen needs to get its act together and move quickly

Volkswagen assembly plant in Mexico
Volkswagen Mexico plant | Volkswagen AG

When approached, a spokesperson from Volkswagen’s worker’s council declined to comment on Diess possibly remarking on losing jobs but did say, “a reduction of 30,000 jobs is absurd and baseless.” Another union representative said job cuts were “out of the question.”

Currently, the Volkswagen plant in Wolfsberg does not produce electric vehicles, but according to the report, there are plans to begin production of a Volkswagen EV code-named “Project Trinity.”

Meanwhile, Tesla will be producing EVs in Germany before the end of the year. If Diess wants to remain competitive, he will need to get Volkswagen and its employees on the same page regarding EV production.

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