* VW cuts 2012 production goal to 9.4 mln vs 9.7 mln-sources
* VW may sell about 140,000 fewer cars this year-Osterloh
* VW to run four extra shifts on Golf production-sources
By Andreas Cremer
BERLIN, Oct 5 Volkswagen halted
production in Germany of its Passat cars this week as part of a
wider move to cut its group output target for the year by about
300,000 vehicles because of the European market slump, company
The global production target for the VW group, which
includes luxury division Audi, has been cut to 9.4 million cars
this year, up on last year's output of 8.5 million but short of
the goal originally set for this year of about 9.7 million, the
sources said on Friday.
German newspaper Handelsblatt also reported the same figure
earlier on Friday.
The sources also said that VW had decided to keep the Passat
production line shut in Emden, northwestern Germany on Thursday
and Friday following Wednesday's national Reunification holiday,
due to reduced orders from fleet customers.
"Western European car markets are in free fall, those
cutbacks are completely unavoidable," said Stefan Bratzel, head
of the Center of Automotive Management think-tank near Cologne.
"There's no carmaker that could claim immunity to the crisis."
VW, on course to overtake U.S. rival General Motors
as the world's second-biggest carmaker behind Toyota Motor Corp
, has outperformed the European market this year.
The company's eight-month sales in the austerity-strapped
region were flat at 2.05 million cars, while southern European
peers Peugeot Citroen, Fiat and Renault
all suffered double-digit percentage declines in a
market that tumbled 7.1 percent to 8.27 million vehicles.
VW also may sell up to 140,000 fewer vehicles this year than
originally exppected, Handelsblatt quoted works council chief
Bernd Osterloh as saying in comments published on Friday and
confirmed by the council's spokesman Joerg Koether.
Chief Executive Martin Winterkorn said on the eve of last
week's Paris auto show that the business environment had become
"significantly more difficult and tougher."
Wolfsburg-based VW's rivals in Europe including GM's Opel
division and Ford have already taken steps to rein in
costs amid plunging sales.
Opel said in August it will cut the hours of several
thousand workers at two of its four German plants while Ford,
bracing for more than $1 billion of losses in Europe, said last
week that it is offering severance packages to several hundred
employees in Germany, the United Kingdom and the rest of Europe.
Audi, which accounted for 44 percent of VW's first-half
operating profits, is halting production at its plant in
Neckarsulm, Germany, its second biggest plant.
Luxury-market rival Mercedes-Benz has said it
will confine production of its top of the range S-Class to
single shifts for a period of between six and nine months,
although a new version of the S-Class is due to hit showrooms
In contrast production has continued as normal at
premium-market leader BMW.
"(Capacity) utilisation continues to be on a very high level
in all factories," a spokesman said on Friday. "We have no
extraordinary steps in the pipeline."
Last month Winterkorn reaffirmed at the Paris car show VW's
"ambitious goals" to increase vehicle sales and revenue this
year, standing by plans to maintain operating profits at last
year's level of 11.3 billion euros ($14.7 billion).
VW is also benefitting from higher than expected orders for
the new version of the Golf, its best-selling car, allowing the
company to run additional shifts on production of the Golf on
four Saturdays through mid-December, works council spokesman
Joerg Koether said.