VW and Jaguar plan major overhauls

Volkswagen’s (VW) new chief executive Herbert Diess said he will consider asset sales and seeks to turn the multi-brand conglomerate into a slimmed down company with strong brands.

Speaking at his first news conference as chief executive at VW’s headquarters in Wolfsburg, Mr Diess said he would look at the different assets in VW’s portfolio, which includes Renk and MAN Diesel, and review whether keeping them makes sense.

“We will review all options,” said Mr Diess, adding that this could include investing in the businesses or pursuing a sale.

Shares in VW remained largely unchanged.

It comes as Britain’s biggest carmaker Jaguar Land Rover will cut around 1,000 jobs and production at two of its English factories due to a fall in sales caused by uncertainty around Brexit and confusion over diesel policy, a source said.

Output will be cut at its central English Solihull and Castle Bromwich plants, affecting some 1,000 agency workers. A spokesman at Jaguar Land Rover declined to comment on the number of jobs which would be lost but the firm said it would be making changes to its output plans. 

Major players in the motor industry have had to rethink strategies after a crackdown across the EU and US following VW’s emissions scandal.

VW’s new boss was announced after its directors ousted Matthias Mueller and deliberated ways to reform an empire which has motorbike, bus, truck and passenger car brands including Ducati, Bentley, Porsche, Audi, Scania and Skoda. The carmaker also said it will reorganise its 12 brands by creating six new vehicle divisions.

A renowned cost-cutter, Mr Diess took over from Mr Mueller after the latter’s attempts to reshape the automotive group foundered amid labour opposition, including his plans to sell motorbike brand Ducati.

Mr Mueller had taken on the job days after the Dieselgate scandal broke in September 2015.

In January, Jaguar said it would temporarily reduce production at its other British plant of Halewood later this year in response to weakening demand due to Brexit and tax hikes on diesel cars but did not detail any job losses.

Jaguar sales are down 26% so far this year whilst Land Rover demand dropped 20% in its home market as buyers shun diesel, concerned over planned tax rises and possible bans and restrictions in several countries.

British new car registrations have been falling for a year which the car industry body has partly blamed on weakening consumer confidence in the wake of the Brexit vote, after record demand in 2015 and 2016.


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