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Volkswagen will reinvent itself as an EV maker

At the cost of 30,000 jobs. So, thanks, Dieselgate.
Daniel Cooper, @danielwcooper
November 18, 2016
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Roberto Baldwin / Engadget

There may be something of a silver lining to Volkswagen's corrupt attempts to cheat emissions tests with its diesel and gas vehicles. The company, reeling from the fines it'll pay for its misdeeds, has announced a radical plan to overhaul itself. It's called "Pact for the Future," and sees the carmaker making a huge commitment to build more electric vehicles, reshape its business and clean up its working practices. Change, however, comes at a price, and in this case it's that the company will shed up to 30,000 jobs.

VW thinks that it can trim the bulk of its workforce without a lot of pain simply by refusing to hire new workers. Instead, it'll gently encourage those close to retirement to take up fishing or golf a few years earlier than planned. In their place, of course, come the robots, and the company is planning to spend billions on new automated production lines. The overall goal is to have significantly fewer warm bodies, but produce 25 percent more cars than it currently does by 2025.

If there's a trend to be identified, it's that human labor is increasingly becoming one of the most expensive parts of manufacturing businesses. Companies, especially big ones that can afford big purchases, will inevitably look to replace people with robots. Another big German brand, Adidas, has factories in Ansbach and, soon, Atlanta, that can whip up a pair of sneakers in five hours. By comparison, a regular sweatshop shoe takes "several weeks" to be produced and shipped to the west on a freighter. So, yeah, the robots are coming for our jobs, and they'll waste no time in making us all look outdated.

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