BMW pledges not to cut jobs during the transition to electric vehicles

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BMW will not cut a single employee as it transitions from combustion engines to electric models, its chief executive has promised, even as economists predict tens of thousands of job losses across the industry.

“We won’t have any job losses due to transformation,” said Oliver Zipse. “At the end of the day, perhaps already in this decade in our Munich factory, there will be fully electric production without anyone losing their job.”

His comments come as Europe’s car sector, along with leading economists, warn that plans to ban petrol and diesel cars will lead to mass unemployment.

The VDA, which represents German automakers, said last year that an EU proposal to ban sales of new combustion engines by 2035 was “almost impossible to achieve” and that the impact on jobs would be “meaningful”.

A survey carried out on behalf of the VDA also revealed that more than 100,000 jobs would be at risk in the German automotive sector if staff were not retrained.

But Zipse said BMW, which posted record profits in 2021 and is due to unveil its first electric limousine, the i7, would train employees around the world with the skills to work on battery-powered models.

“It’s how you handle transformation. . . a highly skilled workforce is able to adapt to almost any technology,” he said.

“We want to keep our people because we rely on their skills.

Zipse, who also heads ACEA, the trade body for European automakers, stressed he was speaking only for BMW, which has taken a flexible approach to electric manufacturing.

Rather than converting factories exclusively to produce electric vehicles, BMW is transforming factories step by step and initially ensuring that combustion engine, hybrid and electric versions of its models can be built on the same production lines. editing, using the same personnel.

“We have a decade of transformation and the rule of thumb is: you have to locate new technology where existing technology is,” he said.

“You have to talk to people and explain to them how their job will evolve in the next five years. And when given perspective, they will follow. So I think it’s a manageable task.

Video: Cars, companies, countries: the race to go electric

So far, job losses in Germany’s auto industry have largely been limited to suppliers such as Continental, which is cutting 13,000 employees in the country.

Clepa, which represents European suppliers, warned in December that half a million jobs could be lost under the EU’s current plans to phase out combustion engines.

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