January 19, 2021

German car industry counts cost of Covid and technological change

Under overcast skies, a scythe-wielding man dressed as the Grim Reaper led hundreds of masked protesters out of the gates of one of Germany’s oldest manufacturing sites in the Bavarian city of Nuremberg.

In what local unions termed “a declaration of war”, the Volkswagen-owned Man Group announced this month that it would cut 9,500 roles, more than a quarter of its workforce, and consider closing production sites across Germany and Austria.

After a summer in which the country’s car industry remained in suspended animation, the protesting staff at Man’s Nuremberg truck and bus factory are among tens of thousands of employees in the strategically-important sector whose jobs are in jeopardy.

Germany’s car industry supports more than 2m domestic jobs and directly accounts for more than 5 per cent of gross domestic product. It is concentrated in the states of Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg and Lower Saxony, whose economies are likely to suffer

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