Production will halt as VW tests more than 200 model variants.
Starting September 1, new emission testing and standards – the Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP) – will go into effect. Those new standards are proving to be a hiccup in production at Volkswagen’s main plant in Wolfsburg, Germany. Just last week, Porsche announced it would halt the sale of several models because of the new standards and testing procedures. VW will stop production as the company only builds vehicles that meet the new rules.
WLTP tests vehicles on real-world driving data as opposed to the previously tested hypothetical driving scenarios, meaning the test will award higher CO2 readings than the previous NEDC testing cycle. This could force some automakers like VW to delay road certification and sales.
“Within the Volkswagen brand alone, we need to test more than 200 model variants and have them type-approved within a very short space of time,” said Group CEO Dr. Herbert Diess. The new standards begin September 1.
The testing procedure is much more complicated, and the volume of work was three to four times higher, according to Diess.
“To master this challenge, our test rigs have been and will be operated virtually round-the-clock,” said Diess. “After the works holidays in Wolfsburg, we will only be making vehicles that meet the new standards. Vehicles will be delivered step-by-step as soon as the type approvals required are available. Nevertheless, we will need to store a large number of vehicles on an interim basis. To ensure that this number does not become too large, we will need to plan closure days for production in Wolfsburg during the period between the works holidays and the end of September.”
The planned halting in production does not appear to sit well with Volkswagen's labor boss Bernd Osterloh.
“It is not the fault of our colleagues that the company has built too few test rigs over the years and can suddenly not handle the test volume required,” said Osterloh. “We will not allow this burden to be borne by the workforce alone at the end of the day. Our colleagues in production are not responsible for this situation.”
VW did not specify which models would cease production during the switchover and certification or when the factory would be operating again at full capacity. The company did say it would notify workers about specifics in the coming days.
Works meeting in Wolfsburg: Successful start to the year, WLTP a challenge
At today’s works meeting held at the main plant in Wolfsburg, Dr. Herbert Diess, Chairman of the Board of Management of the Volkswagen Group and the Volkswagen brand, and General and Group Works Council Chairman Bernd Osterloh reported on the successful start to the year. Diess said to the employees: “The core brand is on the right track and you are one of the main reasons for this. I would like to thank you most sincerely.” Osterloh emphasized: “The workforce have shown that they are still firmly behind Volkswagen, also in challenging times. This a value that cannot be appreciated too highly.” Diess also announced that closure days in production would have to be planned after the works holidays as a result of the changeover to the WLTP test cycle. Osterloh commented: “We will be negotiating with the company concerning the implementation of the arrangement for closure days over the next few days.”
Group CEO Diess said: “The Volkswagen workforce is a strong team. We are a strong team.” He stated that about 100 new models of the Volkswagen brand had been launched since 2015; the economic situation had improved and deliveries had grown to 6.2 million. He added that he had taken over responsibility as CEO with the Group in a solid condition. The Group had completed the first quarter of 2018 with a delivery record; in April, 930,000 Group vehicles had been handed over to customers and the Group strategy TOGETHER 2025 was taking effect. Diess commented that this had been not least an achievement of Matthias Müller: “With considerable personal dedication, he has laid the foundation for us to continue the realignment of Volkswagen with new strength.”
General and Group Works Council Chairman Bernd Osterloh clearly stated that the successful implementation of the Pact for the Future initiated by the Works Council would continue: “This year alone, we have created 300 future-oriented jobs within the Pact for the Future. Since the pact was first concluded, 1,500 jobs have been created.” In this context, Osterloh called upon the Board of Management to engage in discussions concerning the shaping of technical progress, especially with respect to office jobs. “During the Works Council elections, we said that the company would need to agree with us upon a binding digitalization roadmap. We want to negotiate concerning the effects of introducing the new systems, especially in indirect departments. And we also want to negotiate concerning the consequences for jobs.” Osterloh said that job security remained the top priority of the Works Council.
Diess stated that Volkswagen would continue the course it had set and faced two main challenges:. “Volkswagen must become more open, more honest, more upstanding. And Volkswagen must become faster and more flexible.” He added that this was not only a matter of rules, legislation and the law but also of decency and ethics. Diess: “Within the company, decency and ethics start at the very top. Measure us and your managers by these yardsticks.” He added that the Group not only wanted to implement the recommendations and requirements of the monitor but intended to become a well-managed, honest and open company. “With this aim in mind, we will all need to make a great effort. All of us together.” According to Diess, Volkswagen will be further expanding its internal whistleblower system, will be reinforcing the compliance organization throughout the Group and will be anchoring ethically impeccable conduct as part of the corporate culture.
The Group CEO referred to the changeover to the new WLTP test cycle as a challenge. “Within the Volkswagen brand alone, we need to test more than 200 model variants and have them type-approved within a very short space of time.” He added that the test procedure was much more complex and took much longer and that the volume of testing work was 3 to 4 times higher than was previously the case. “To master this challenge, our test rigs have been and will be operated virtually round-the-clock.” With respect to Wolfsburg, Diess said that there were already certain signs that: “We must expect production interruptions in the third quarter.” He explained to the employees: “After the works holidays in Wolfsburg, we will only be making vehicles that meet the new standards. Vehicles will be delivered step-by-step as soon as the type approvals required are available. Nevertheless, we will need to store a large number of vehicles on an interim basis. To ensure that this number does not become too large, we will need to plan closure days for production in Wolfsburg during the period between the works holidays and the end of September.” The distribution of these closure days would be discussed with the Works Council over the next few days and the workforce would then be notified as soon as possible.
Works Council Chairman Osterloh said that the effects of program reductions could not simply be imposed on the employees concerned. “It is not the fault of our colleagues that the company has built too few test rigs over the years and can suddenly not handle the test volume required. We will not allow this burden to be borne by the workforce alone at the end of the day. Our colleagues in production are not responsible for this situation.”
The VfL Wolfsburg women’s soccer team took the stage for a talk session with Works Council Chairman Osterloh. The team had won two of the possible titles, the league championship and the DFB cup, and had only narrowly missed the triple crown in the Champions League final. Singer and composer Peter Maffay also appeared. He is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Volkswagen Belegschaftsstiftung (Volkswagen Employee Foundation).