Source: Automotive News Europe, 2021-10-02
Volkswagen Group's main plant in Wolfsburg, Germany, might face historically low output in 2021 and needs a faster shift toward electric vehicles to remain competitive, according to the automaker's top labor officials.
Production of a flagship electric sedan -- called Trinity -- is set to start at Wolfsburg in 2026, which is too late to ensure sufficient utilisation of the site, VW works Council Chief Daniela Cavallo and her deputy Gerardo Scarpino said in a joint statement on Saturday.
"The location needs a quicker way toward e-mobility," Cavallo said.
The Braunschweiger Zeitung newspaper quoted Cavallo as saying the Trinity project should be pushed forward to 2024, according to Reuters.
The global chip shortage hampers manufacturing at the sprawling Wolfsburg factory, which produced about 780,000 cars annually on average over the past 10 years and covers an area as big as Monaco.
VW said this week that it would cut working hours there for the first two weeks of October. Only one assembly line will be running at the plant, which builds the Golf, Touran, Tiguan and Seat Tarraco models.
VW CEO Herbert Diess has pitted Wolfsburg against Tesla's factory that is under construction outside Berlin and is slated to start production in 2022. VW plans to upgrade Wolfsburg with the latest electric-vehicle technology and software operations.
Due to the persistent scarcity of semiconductor chips, the output at Wolfsburg in 2021 could even fall below the level of 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic pushed production to just below 500,000 cars, according to VW's works council. VW's initial goal, agreed to in a labor pact five years ago, was to make at least 820,000 vehicles in Wolfsburg in 2020.