Tesla pushes Volkswagen to speed up electric vehicle switch

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BERLIN, October 13 (Reuters) – Competition from new entrants in the German automotive market such as Tesla (TSLA.O) has prompted Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE) to accelerate plans to transform its main plant into the production of electric vehicles, the company announced on Wednesday. .

“There is no doubt that we need to look at the competitiveness of our Wolfsburg plant with a view to new market entrants,” Volkswagen spokesman Michael Manske said, noting that Tesla and the new Chinese automakers were making forays into Europe.

“Tesla is setting new standards for productivity and scale at Grunheide,” he said, referring to a Tesla plant under construction near Berlin that, at full capacity, will produce 5,000-10,000 cars per week, or more than double of all German battery electric vehicles (EVs) production in 2020.

However, the spokesperson denied a report published on Wednesday in the German newspaper Handelsblatt, according to which Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess said at a supervisory board meeting in September that the transition to electric vehicles could cost up to 30,000 jobs at the company.

“A debate is now underway and there are already a lot of good ideas. There are no concrete scenarios,” Manske said of the report.

A spokesperson for Volkswagen’s workers’ council said that while they would not comment on speculation as to whether Diess made the comments, “a reduction of 30,000 jobs is absurd and unfounded.”

Electric vehicles have far fewer parts than a car with an internal combustion engine and therefore require fewer workers for their production. According to one estimate, 100,000 jobs in the auto industry could be lost by 2025 due to electrification.

German automakers are struggling to catch up with the more efficient production platforms of outright electric vehicle makers. While Volkswagen currently needs around 30 hours to produce its ID.3 electric car, Tesla only needs 10 to make a Model 3.

Diess has previously said Tesla will fuel competition in Germany.

Volkswagen’s Wolfsburg plant, the world’s largest with more than 50,000 employees, does not currently manufacture electric vehicles, but the company plans to produce an electric sedan there from 2026 as part of a plan. titled “Project Trinity”.

The German auto giant is also considering listing its car and power charging business in addition to existing IPO plans for its batteries division, chief technology officer Thomas Schmall told Manager Magazin in an interview published Wednesday.

Schmall said nothing has been decided yet and it will likely take up to two years before the new companies are created and ready for the stock market.

Reporting by Zuzanna Szymanska and Victoria Waldersee Editing by Jason Neely and Mark Potter

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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