Volkswagen Group CEO Herbert Diess has confirmed that the German brand will face production interruptions at its main plant in Wolfsburg in the third quarter of 2018. The reason? The new Worldwide Harmonised Light vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP) cycle that is scheduled to come into effect at the start of September.
“Within the Volkswagen brand alone, we need to test more than 200 model variants and have them type-approved within a very short space of time,” Diess said in a statement from VW, explaining that the new test procedure was “much more complex” and “took much longer”.
Diess reiterated that the volume of testing work under the new test – which will measure fuel consumption and CO2 emissions for passenger cars, as well as their pollutant emissions, based on real driving data – was three to four times higher than was previously the case.
“To master this challenge, our test rigs have been and will be operated virtually round-the-clock. We must expect production interruptions in the third quarter,” Diess confirmed, referring specifically to the Wolfsburg facility, where Volkswagen builds the Golf, Touran and Tiguan.
“After the works holidays in Wolfsburg, we will only be making vehicles that meet the new standards. Vehicles will be delivered step-by-step as soon as the type approvals required are available.
“Nevertheless, we will need to store a large number of vehicles on an interim basis. To ensure that this number does not become too large, we will need to plan closure days for production in Wolfsburg during the period between the works holidays and the end of September.”
VW said that the distribution of these closure days would be discussed with the Works Council, with the workforce set to be notified “as soon as possible”.
Works Council chairperson Bernd Osterloh countered that the effects of these programme reductions should not simply be imposed on the employees concerned.
“It is not the fault of our colleagues that the company has built too few test rigs over the years and can suddenly not handle the test volume required. We will not allow this burden to be borne by the workforce alone at the end of the day. Our colleagues in production are not responsible for this situation,” said Osterloh.