Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess is under fire from the unions in reference to strategy. However, Diess remains positive about this as the company made progress. Recently in talks with the company’s five-year investment plan, the future of the Wolfsburg plant is being discussed. The meeting was said to be over last week.
The main concern is about the impending job loss. Around 30,000 employees in the company have to go through the transition from gas to electric vehicle making. VW is the second-largest manufacturing automaker in the world. In September Diess talked about people losing their jobs as the company goes through electrification. This could potentially cause blood among the union workers and German politicians.
Volkswagen has been quickly responding to electric vehicle transitions since 2018. With ambitious goals to surpass Tesla, Diess has been implementing various goals for the company. In the third quarter of 2021, Volkswagen sold 122,000 fully electric vehicles – double sales compared to 2020. While Tesla sold around 240,000 cars in the third quarter this year. VW has many brands under its umbrella-like Audi and Skoda, which also announced their plans to electrify their fleet. Overall VW profits fell by 12% this year. This is not surprising considering the chip shortage and other supply chain issues almost every automaker has been experiencing.
Diess is positive about future
The CEO said, “You can see that my mood is very good because we’ve made a lot of progress in the last few weeks.” Diess’s position at the helm of Europe’s largest carmaker has been hanging by a thread in recent weeks amid tensions over his management style and electrification strategy. Volkswagen’s supervisory board will meet next Thursday to agree on a five-year investment plan. But the lead-up to the meeting has been clouded by uncertainty over whether Diess will remain in his position and disagreements over the future of the Wolfsburg plant, which workers fear is being left behind in the transition to electric vehicles.
It is known that a decision on whether Diess will stay or go is expected by the end of this week, with the latest round of discussions on the matter taking place last weekend. On the question of Wolfsburg, management and the works council were discussing assembling the electric ID.3 model at the plant – “it could certainly make sense to produce such a model,” Diess said.
The plant would become unrecognizable by 2030, he promised, with changes underway that would make it “very competitive to Gruenheide” – Tesla’s giant electric vehicle factory just hours away which, pending final approval, could kick into gear in December.