Volkswagen Group Chief Executive Bernd Pischetsrieder said the company hasn’t set a specific target on how many jobs need to be eliminated to save one billion euros in labour costs by 2008, Bloomberg reports.

“The basic problem is cost and that needs to be solved,” Pischetsrieder said in an interview yesterday at the International Motor Show in Frankfurt. “There is no head count figure.”

Volkswagen, Europe’s largest carmaker, said on Sept. 5 that a reduction of several thousands jobs was needed in its western German workforce of 103,000. Estimates of how many jobs must go have ranged from 10,000 reported in Der SPIEGEL magazine on Sept. 3 to 30,000 in trade publication Automobilwoche on Sept. 10.

“I don’t know where they come from,” Pischetsrieder said of the numbers. “They don’t come from us.”

Volkswagen will need to push workers to put in more hours for the same or less pay to reduce costs, said Philippe Houchois, an analyst with JP Morgan in London quoted by Bloomberg.

“You still have a number of situations where job specifications are rather rigid,” Houchois said. “Paying 900 million euros of overtime last year was clearly too high, so you need to reduce that.”

CHINA: Nissan opens Shanghai design office to tailor products for China

Nissan Motor Co has opened a design office in Shanghai in a new effort to make its products more suitable for the Chinese car market, the China Daily reported.

Citing Nissan senior vice president and chief designer Shiro Nakamura, the newspaper said that the new office will conduct design research for the China market and work with the company’s local suppliers.

“China is an emerging car market and we hope to learn the habits of customers here through this design office,” the newspaper quoted Nakamura as saying.

“Hatchbacks and small cars are increasingly popular in China and this trend will continue,” he added.

The Shanghai facility, which opened on Friday, is Nissan’s eighth worldwide, the newspaper said.