Apart from the likes of Elon Musk, few car manufacturer chief executives have been more present and outspoken about electric vehicles as Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess. But even though he’s led Veedub through its electrification transition, it seems he’s also on the chopping block.
It’s been reported by Reuters that insiders at Volkswagen believe Diess’ future with the marque is “on a knife-edge”, following a meeting earlier this week over his performance and future was discussed.
It’s understood that Diess is in hot water internally following his comments that if Volswagen is too slow to transition to complete electrification in its line-up, it could cost the brand around 30,000 jobs. It’s been reported that union representatives didn’t like the sentiment.
Diess made the comments to Volkswagen’s supervisory board in September, basing his comments on the rise of new rivals like Tesla, which notably just started producing cars in Germany.
Diess noted that Tesla’s new GigaFactory is set to produce 500,000 new vehicles annually with a staff of 12,000 employees, while Volkswagen’s Wolfsburg plant produces 700,000 vehicles annually with more than twice the staff.
“There is no question that we have to address the competitiveness of our plant in Wolfsburg in view of new market entrants,” said Volkswagen representative Michael Manske, speaking to Reuters off the back of Diess’ comments.
“Tesla is setting new standards for productivity and scale in Grunheide [where its GigaFactory resides]. A debate is now underway and there are already many good ideas. There are no concrete scenarios.”
These discussions eventually got back to the Volkswagen worker’s council. Although the council didn’t release a full response to the Diess comments, it did say that “a reduction of 30,000 jobs is absurd and baseless” according to CarScoops.
Those who attended the Tuesday meeting in which Diess’ future was discussed included council head Daniela Cavallo and representatives from the majority shareholder Piech and Porsche families. A decision has yet to be made.
Reuters reports that Diess’ fate now rests with an eight-person committee, with a final decision set to come out before December 9; this being the date that a supervisory board is scheduled to sit down and discuss Volkswagen’s five-year spending plan.