Volkswagen CEO warns delaying switch to electric cars could cost 30,000 jobs. Subscribe to Electric Vehicle News Bitesize Podcast for FREE!

Volkswagen could lose 30,000 jobs if the transition to electric vehicles (EVs) is too slow, Chief Executive Herbert Diess said at a supervisory board meeting in September.

Volkswagen CEO Diess told attendees that competition from new entrants to the German market, such as Tesla, was driving the company to accelerate its transformation.

The US electric car maker plans to produce 500,000 cars a year in Germany with 12,000 employees, compared with Volkswagen’s 25,000 cars making just 700,000 at its Wolfsburg plant.

A company spokesman confirmed Volkswagen CEO Diess’s position that the presence of Tesla and others in Germany increased the urgency of the transition to electric vehicles, but denied that a specific calculation of jobs that could be lost in the process had been made.

There is no doubt that the Volkswagen CEO has to address the competitiveness of our Wolfsburg plant given the new market entrants referring to Tesla and the new Chinese car Manufacturers enter Europe.

Tesla is setting new standards for productivity and scale in Glenhead. The Tesla factory under construction near Berlin, which will produce 5,000 to 10,000 cars a week at peak capacity – Electric vehicle (EV) production in Germany more than doubled in 2020.

Electric vehicles have far fewer parts than internal combustion engine vehicles, and therefore require fewer workers to produce. According to one estimate, the German auto industry could lose 100,000 jobs to electrification by 2025.

Volkswagen’s Wolfsburg plant, the world’s largest with more than 50,000 employees, doesn’t currently make electric cars, but the company plans to start producing electric sedans there from 2026 under a plan called the Trinity Plan.

In addition to its existing plans for an IPO for its battery unit, the German auto giant is considering listing its vehicle charging and energy business, Chief Technology Officer Thomas Schmall said in an interview with Manager Magazin.

Schmall said no decisions had been made and it could take up to two years for a new company to be established and ready for the stock market.

The founding of Volkswagen and the birth of the Beetle. Volkswagen founded in Berlin in 1937 by the Deutsche Arbeitsfront. In the early 1930s, cars were a luxury item—most Germans could not afford anything more refined than a motorcycle, and only one in 50 Germans owned a car. To find potential new markets, some automakers had started independent “people’s car” projects.

The growing trend was not new; groundbreaking automotive engineer Béla Barényi had already conceived the basic design in the mid-1920s. Josef Ganz developed the Standard Superior (even advertised it as “German Volkswagen”). In Germany, the Hanomag company mass-produced the 2/10 PS “Kommissbrot” from 1925 to 1928, a small, inexpensive rear-engine car. Additionally, in Czechoslovakia, the Hans Ledwinka-designed Tatra T77, a car very popular among the German elite, became smaller and more affordable with each revision . Ferdinand Porsche, a well-known designer of high-end cars and race cars, had been trying for years to get manufacturers interested in small, family-friendly cars. He built a car called “Volksauto” from scratch in 1933, taking many popular ideas and some of his own, assembling a car with an air-cooled rear engine, torsion bar suspension and a “Beetle” Shaped car, the front hood is rounded for better aerodynamics (necessary as it has a small engine).

In 1934, with many of the aforementioned projects still in development or early production, the German Government got involved and ordered the production of a basic vehicle capable of transporting two adults and three children at 100 km/h (62 mph). A car was wanted that every German family could afford. The “people’s car” would be purchased through a savings scheme for the price of a scooter (average weekly income around RM32).

It soon became apparent that there was no way the private sector could produce a car for the target budget. So thw German Government chose to sponsor a brand new state-owned factory with a Ferdinand Porsche design. Design suggestions included an air-cooled engine so it wouldn’t freeze.

The purpose was that German families can buy cars through a savings scheme and eventually about 336,000 people paid the fee. However, the project was not commercially viable and could only be sustained with government support.

A prototype car known as the “KdF-Wagen” (German: Kraft durch Freude – “Strength through Joy”) appeared from 1938 (the first car was produced in Stuttgart). The car already has its distinctive round and air-cooled four-cylinder rear engine. Volkswagen is just one of many KdF projects, which include activities such as tours and outings. The prefix Volks – (“people’s”) applies not only to cars, but also to other German products; eg “Volksempfänger” radio receivers. On May 28, 1937, Gesellschaft zur Vorbereitung des Deutschen Volkswagens mbH (“German Volkswagen Preparation Company”) or simply Gezuvor was founded by Deutsche Arbeitsfront in Berlin. More than a year later, on September 16, 1938, it was renamed the Volkswagen AG.

Erwin Komenda, a longtime chief designer at Auto Union, was part of a hand-picked team at Ferdinand Porsche, who developed the body of the prototype car that is known today as the Beetle. It was one of the first cars to be designed using the wind tunnel – a method used in German aircraft design since the early 1920s. The car designs were rigorously tested and achieved a record million-mile test before being deemed complete.

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Volkswagen CEO warns delaying switch to electric cars could cost 30,000 jobs if the transition to electric vehicles (EVs) is too slow,
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