Electric cars will require 10,000-plus job cuts at VW, says HR chief


Volkswagen ID electric car concept, 2016 Paris auto show

Volkswagen ID electric car concept, 2016 Paris auto show

Enlarge Photo

As it works to pull itself out of the quagmire of the ongoing diesel-emissions scandal, VW Group has ambitious plans to add more electric cars to its lineup.

Right now, the only electric car Volkswagen sells in multiple regions under its own brand its the e-Golf, an all-electric variant of the popular hatchback.

But the company plans to launch 30 new electric models across its many brands between now and 2025.

DON'T MISS: Could future VW Beetle return to rear (electric) powertrain?

That has officials—both within the company itself and from its labor unions—thinking about the impact of increased electrification on the workforce.

Volkswagen expects its greater emphasis on electric cars to eliminate a "five-digit number of jobs" in the coming years, according to Reuters.

That's based on comments from VW's head of human resources, published in the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

Volkswagen Budd-e Concept

Volkswagen Budd-e Concept

Enlarge Photo

Electric motors have fewer components than internal-combustion engines, and so don't require as many workers to assemble and install in cars.

Volkswagen's works council reportedly expects up to 25,000 staff to be cut over the next decade, as older workers retire.

The works council is currently in talks with VW management over cost cuts and a strategy to turn the main Volkswagen brand around after the diesel scandal.

ALSO SEE: VW 'annoyed' it won't get order for electric vans it didn't make

These matters will be discussed at a November 18 meeting of the company's supervisory board.

The works council is reportedly pushing management to bring battery-cell production in house, saying the negotiations could falter if that is not done.

Adding large-scale battery production could provide another source of jobs to counteract any losses from the transition to electric cars.

Volkswagen I.D. electric car concept, 2016 Paris auto show

Volkswagen I.D. electric car concept, 2016 Paris auto show

Enlarge Photo

This seems to echo the thinking of the labor leader at another large German carmaker.

In September, Michael Brecht—works council chief for Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler—noted that internal-combustion engines require roughly 10 times the amount of workers to manufacture as do electric motors.

MORE: Electric cars necessary to protect Mercedes jobs, says labor leader

But rather than limit production of electric cars, Brecht said that Daimler should double down, and produce as many components in house as it can.

This would help keep as many people employed as possible, he reasoned.

Volkswagen I.D. electric car concept, 2016 Paris auto show

Volkswagen I.D. electric car concept, 2016 Paris auto show

Enlarge Photo

It would likely also act as a hedge against the outsourcing of powertrains components to other companies.

Electric powertrains involve less specialized knowledge, and are thus much easier for outside companies to develop.

This is apparent in the development of the Chevrolet Bolt EV electric car, for which GM contracted out manufacturing of many components to supplier LG.

[hat tip: Brian Henderson]

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