GERMANY: Labour rep sees VW chairman and CEO on job till 2018
The top labour representative at Volkswagen AG sees chairman Ferdinand Piech and CEO Martin Winterkorn staying at least until 2018 to push forward a growth plan, a media report said.
“I’d be one of the first people to know if the situation changes” among the manufacturer’s management, Bernd Osterloh, head of VW’s works council, said at a press conference near company headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany, according to Bloomberg News. Piech “had no plan to resign” last year, counter to a newspaper’s report at the time, added Osterloh, who also sits on VW’s supervisory board.
Osterloh also said the VW brand, whose US sales slipped 6.9% year on year to 407,704 in 2013, had shown a “catastrophic” performance in that market.
Raising Volkswagen’s US presence is critical to Winterkorn’s goal of beating GM and Toyota in global sales by 2018, Bloomberg noted.
Osterloh said the life cycle of VW’s models in the US “has been miscalculated,” and the carmaker underestimated price competition. He added: “We won’t have a better situation in the US before 2016 or 2017,” when a new mid-size sport-utility vehicle is rolled out.
Bllomberg said Winterkorn, 66, has a five-year contract with VW that expires in 2016. Piech, 76, thwarted efforts by Porsche SE, which is controlled by his family, to acquire VW in 2009, and is now in his third term as board chairman after retiring as CEO in 2002. His wife, Ursula, gained a board seat in 2012.
Osterloh said he saw no lack of internal candidates to succeed Winterkorn eventually.
A potential vote by employees on representation by the United Auto Workers union, which is looking to set up a works council at Chattanooga, will be unrelated to the SUV decision, Osterloh said. The timing has been hampered by legal complaints filed by four Volkswagen employees at the site against the UAW’s initiative, he said.
Volkswagen is looking most closely at a Polish site for building the Crafter commercial van, a model the company is taking over once a production partnership with Daimler expires, though other plants including one in Turkey are possible, Osterloh said. Volkswagen’s supervisory board may decide on that model in February, he said.
The board may also decide this year on an entry-level car that would be targeted at China and Southeast Asian markets, Osterloh said.