Volkswagen weighing up CEO's future - report

There's tension at the top of Volkswagen, with reports from Germany suggesting Herbert Diess could be in the firing line.

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Scott Collie
Scott Collie
Deputy Editor
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The Volkswagen Group has convened a special committee to decide the fate of its current CEO.

A report from Reuters says a “rarely-summoned” committee of the Volkswagen supervisory board will meet to discuss Herbert Diess’ future, as the company continues its move into the electric vehicle world.

The committee reportedly includes the CEO of Porsche SE, the premier of the German state of Lower Saxony, the leader of the Volkswagen works council (more below), and the head of Germany’s largest trade union.

Mr Diess is contracted until October 2025, but has drawn the ire of the Volkswagen works council – a union-style body which represents employees and has the power to negotiate with management.

According to German newspaper Handelsblatt, the council has expressed a vote of no confidence in Mr Diess, who recently flagged the potential for huge job cuts and production changes as part of Volkswagen’s electric push.

Mr Diess recently told the Volkswagen board up to 30,000 jobs could be cut if the brand doesn’t move fast enough to electric power.

Of particular concern is its plant in Wolfsburg, which is expected to produce a similar number of cars to Tesla’s upcoming Berlin Gigafactory despite having significantly more employees.

Mr Diess has also recently expressed admiration for Tesla boss Elon Musk, and recently had the outspoken electric car boss present to some of Volkswagen’s top managers. He’s pointed to Tesla’s lean workforce as an industry standard for efficiency, further fuelling union fears of job cuts.

Volkswagen has already announced the next steps in its electric transition.

The German firm earlier this year announced it will replace the existing mainstream MEB architecture and the upcoming high-end PPE platform with the Scalable Systems Platform (SSP).

The change will happen gradually, though, with the switchover not due to complete until around 2035.

SSP will be developed from MEB and PPE, and will serve as the basis for “models of all brands and segments”.

Diess told the media, “We believe the differentiation of platforms due to many different drivetrain concepts is no longer relevant because all the new platforms have a battery skateboard”.

As such, it “makes perfect sense” to switch to one architecture that can “easily accept different battery sizes and so on”.

The first vehicle based on SSP won’t launch until 2024 or 2025 when Audi’s Project Artemis is revealed.

By then Volkswagen plans to be the world’s largest producer of electric vehicles.

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Scott Collie
Scott Collie
Scott Collie is the Deputy Editor at CarExpert.
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