Karlheinz Blessing, head of human resources for Volkswsagen, told German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung last week that assembling electric motors requires far fewer workers than building internal combustion engines. In September, Michael Brecht — head of the labor unions at Mercedes-Benz — said that internal combustion engines require roughly 10 times the amount of workers that electric motors do. That means companies will require fewer workers in the future as electric car production ramps up.
Vokswagen is currently in discussions with the unions that represent its assembly line workers. Both sides are trying to figure out how the company will move forward as it tries to put the embarrassing diesel emissions cheating scandal behind it. Although there will be no forced dismissals according to Blessing, he still expects the company’s workforce to shrink by up to 25,000 people over the next decade as older workers retire and are not replaced.
The unions want Volkswagen to invest in its own battery manufacturing facilities as a way of providing employment for some of the workers no longer needed on the electric car assembly line. Blessing said Volkswagen is considering whether to do that but said no final decision has been made yet.
Management and labor leaders are trying to reach agreement on cost cuts and long term strategies before a November 18 meeting of the supervisory board. Future electric car spending plans are expected to be approved at that meeting. “If 30 percent of the value creation will be in the battery system in future, it is right to consider whether we will step in and to what extent. We cannot leave that to others,” Blessing said.
The company plans to launch 30 new electric models across its many brands between now and 2025. Mercedes’ Brecht says that rather than limit production of electric cars, Mercedes should produce as many components, including batteries, in house as possible. His company seems willing to heed that advice. It has just announced the start of a second battery manufacturing facility in Germany to supply is new EQ line of electric cars.
Source: Reuters Photo credit: Volkswagen