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Auto blogThu, 23 Jan 2014
Today in the Tell Us How You Really Feel file we have Bernd Osterloh, head of Volkswagen AG's Group Works Councils and member of the company's supervisory board, labeling the company's US operations "a disaster." Why? Because Osterloh believes VW of America doesn't have the models it needs to be competitive here, hasn't been decisive enough about its plans and German higher-ups still don't understand the US market.
In truth, the top labor rep at the German conglomerate is echoing sentiments we've heard from VWoA executives for years, and there's been the same commentary from dealers: Germany doesn't pay enough attention to what the US market really wants. Even ex-VWoA CEO Stefan Jacoby, who preceded the recently departed Jonathan Browning, said early in his tenure that one of his tasks was to get his German bosses to start delivering what the US market demanded. New CEO Michael Horn is saying much the same thing seven years later, telling Sky News that it has to increase "the speed at which we bring new models to the market and innovation to the market."
Osterloh wants to get "more models" here, including a pickup truck, but we'd wonder if the economics have changed from when Jacoby said they'd need to sell 100,000 per year to make money. Osterloh also wants a decision on where the CrossBlue will be built. Although it looked as if the Chatanooga, TN plant would get the call, the Puebla, Mexico plant is still in the running because of lower operating costs. No matter what happens right now, Osterloh thinks the situation won't get better for another two years when revamped models arrive, but at least the company can start taking the steps for a better US future.
The United Auto Workers have called a decision by the National Labor Relations Board allowing anti-UAW employees at the Volkswagen factory in Chattanooga the right to defend voting down unionization at the plant "an outrage."
You'll recall that the union was defeated by a vote of 712 to 626 in a contentious February election. The UAW claims the outcome was unfairly swayed by pro-business, anti-union forces, including Senator Bob Corker and political advocate Grover Norquist.
This new decision by the NLRB essentially gives workers backed by the anti-UAW National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation and Southern Momentum a formal voice in the impending hearing on the UAW's appeal of the vote.
After adding Italian motorcycle icon Ducati to its stable and spending $5.6 billion on the rest of Porsche, Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn says he's done shopping for a while.
"We have enough to do at the moment in taking our twelve brands to where we want to be," Winterkorn tells German newspaper Handelsblatt.