- Volkswagen’s CEO warned workers that Tesla’s new German factory poses a major threat.
- Herbert Diess noted that Tesla will build electric cars faster than VW currently can.
- Diess has been on a mission to transform VW for the electric-car era.
Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess has made it his mission to catch up to – and eventually beat – Tesla as the auto industry shifts to electric vehicles.
Now Tesla is bringing the fight to Volkswagen’s home turf of Germany, and Diess is warning workers that their jobs could be in jeopardy if the giant carmaker doesn’t act quickly enough.
“Yes, I’m worried about Wolfsburg,” Diess told workers during a staff meeting on Thursday, per Bloomberg. “I want that your children and grandchildren can still have a secure job here with us in Wolfsburg. That’s my point today, that’s why I’m here.”
The Wolfsburg plant is the Volkswagen Group’s main manufacturing facility where it churns out some 800,000 vehicles per year across multiple brands. Tesla, the fast-growing electric-car maker, poses a threat to Volkswagen and any other industry giant that moves too slowly as appetite for EVs grows.
Tesla plans to start ramping up production at its new German plant (its first in Europe) in 2022. Diess told workers that Volkswagen will need to make big changes to remain competitive when that happens, Bloomberg reported. He noted that Tesla is improving its build quality and will be able to build a vehicle from start to finish in 10 hours, triple the time it takes Volkswagen’s main factory to spit out an electric car.
Diess’ efforts to swiftly remake Volkswagen have alarmed labor representatives concerned about potential layoffs, Reuters reported. Diess held Thursday’s meeting in an attempt to smooth over the conflict and recognize the contributions workers have made to Volkswagen’s transformation.
“Only as a team can we make Volkswagen future-proof,” Diess said during the meeting, according to Reuters.
In recent few years, Volkswagen has rolled out several electric models across its Volkswagen, Porsche, and Audi brands. It also presented an ambitious vision for massive battery plants and big investments in charging infrastructure.