Around 1,000 workers at Volkswagen have accepted voluntary severance packages over the past three weeks, the company told Reuters, confirming a report in Bild newspaper on Tuesday.

"The initial phase has exceeded expectations," a spokesman said.

While it was not foreseeable just how many would eventually take advantage of the deal, he added that VW was working its way through a waiting list.

The news agency said Volkswagen has offered the packages to 85,000 workers at its six loss-making western German factories.

Without citing sources, Bild wrote that most of the workers were between 31 and 40 years old and would each receive roughly EUR150,000 ($US188,500)on average, Reuters said.

The news agency noted that Volkswagen said early in September that it still had "considerable overcapacity" despite rising sales and would be stepping up measures to reduce manpower via early retirement and voluntary buyout packages. In February it added that up to 20,000 direct and indirect employees at the VW brand "could be affected" by its restructuring measures in the next three years.

Should workers decide to leave the company by the end of September, Volkswagen will offer an early-signing bonus of EUR54,000 euros on top of the between 40,000 and 195,000 euros it will pay staff just to leave. Should one agree to quit in the last quarter of 2006, the bonus will be halved, Reuters added.