The chief executive of German automaker Volkswagen warned in September that the company could lose 30,000 jobs if it took too long to shift to electric vehicles (EVs) in Germany, Reuters reported, citing two sources familiar with the matter.
Herbert Diess, the CEO of Volkswagen, said during a supervisory meeting last month that the company could lose tens of thousands of jobs if it took too long to shift to EVs, according the sources. The CEO reportedly cited competition from Tesla and other automakers seeking to enter the German car market, the news outlet reported.
Handelsblatt was the first to report on Diess’s comments.
A spokesperson for Volkswagen, Michael Manske, denied the idea that the automaker stood to lose 30,000 jobs but acknowledged that Tesla and other automakers were pushing Volkswagen to stay competitive.
“Cutting 30,000 jobs is not an issue at VW. There are no concrete plans,” Manske said in a statement. “There is no question that we have to address the competitiveness of our plant in Wolfsburg in view of the new market entrants. Tesla in Grünheide will set new standards in productivity and scale.”
At Volkswagen’s Wolfsburg plant, about 700,000 vehicles are produced by its 25,000 employees each year.
However, electric vehicles are not currently manufactured Volkswagen's Wolfsburg plant, though the automaker is slated to make an electric sedan within the next few years.
Tesla seeks to produce 500,000 cars per year with 12,000 employees in Germany, according to Reuters.
Meanwhile, Tesla is set to outpace 2020 levels of manufacturing for battery-electric vehicles in Germany. Once Tesla's Grünheide factory is finished, between 5,000 to 10,000 EVs could be made per week at peak production.
The German automaker’s works council also disputed the idea that many jobs would be at stake in the automaker’s transition to EVs.
"A reduction of 30,000 jobs - that would be one in four at Volkswagen AG in Germany - is absurd and has no basis whatsoever," a spokesperson for the works council at Volkswagen told The Hill in a statement, noting that they do not comment "on speculation about alleged internal matters from the Supervisory Board."
Updated at 5:15 p.m.