BERLIN (Reuters) - Audi’s labor boss has called on the carmaker’s top management to build more electric models in Germany and extend a job guarantee for workers in its home market beyond 2018.
Volkswagen-owned (VOWG_p.DE) Audi, which like its parent is grappling with the fallout from the group’s emissions test cheating scandal, must prolong a job guarantee for its 60,000 Germany-based staff as it pursues a strategic overhaul, works council chief Peter Mosch said on Wednesday.
Audi plans to invest about a third of its R&D budget into electric cars, digital services and autonomous driving and wants zero-emission vehicles to account for at least a quarter of its sales by 2025, mirroring plans by Volkswagen (VW).
At the same time, the luxury division’s key factory in Ingolstadt, where about half of Audi’s global workforce of 85,000 is employed, faces production changes as it will lose the Q5 sport-utility vehicle (SUV) to a new Mexican plant while accommodating the new Q2 model.
“In these stressed times one thing must be safe and that’s employment of the Audi workers,” Mosch told a gathering of more than 8,000 workers in Ingolstadt.
Employment guarantees for the 60,000 workers in Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm, where Audi makes high-end models such as the A8 saloon and the R8 sports car, are due to expire in 2018.
German workers have grown concerned about their jobs ever since Audi said in January it would use a factory in Brussels to build its first mass-produced electric model, the e-tron quattro SUV and make the site a key plant for electric mobility within the VW group.
To allay those fears, Audi Chief Executive Rupert Stadler offered on Wednesday to hold bilateral talks with labor leaders in the coming weeks on the future of German plants, orders and projects.
“The German Audi factories must now stand in the center of the new era of mobility,” said Mosch, who sits on the supervisory boards of both VW and Audi. “We must now draw the right conclusion from this situation and take action.”
Reporting by Andreas Cremer; Editing by Edward Taylor and Mark Potter