Volkswagen Wins Labor Support for Restructuring

Workers backed the restructuring after the automaker presented its new $1.1 billion battery plan.

Volkswagen said it is proceeding with plans to restructure after securing the support of powerful labor unions by pledging to spend $1.1 billion on a new battery cell plant in Salzgitter, Germany, near its headquarters in Lower Saxony.

The battery production facility is part of the company’s strategic embrace of electric technology as it copes with the ongoing fallout from the diesel emissions scandal.

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Volkswagen said it would set up the battery facility in Europe through a partnership, but it did not name the likely partner. The company is also considering opening other battery-production sites in Europe.

“As part of our comprehensive electrification offensive we plan to secure our battery capacities through strategic partnerships,” supervisory board chairman Hans Dieter Pötsch said in a statement. “At the same time, we wish to expand our production capacities in Europe to support our growth plans.”

In a letter to employees, labor chief Bernd Osterloh said the employee representatives on the supervisory board expressly supported the strategy. “These decisions set the course for sustainable further development of secure jobs as well as profitability,” Osterloh said.

The company also said it was resuming plans for an initial public offering of Traton, its trucks business. Citing market volatility, Volkswagen put the Traton IPO on hold in March. It had previously said it would list up to 25% of the business to raise $6.7 billion.

In a statement, Volkswagen finance chief Frank Witter said “current market assessments” had encouraged VW to proceed with the share offering.