Volkswagen chief executive Herbert Diess attended a supervisory board meeting on Thursday amid mounting problems with the carmaker’s flagship Golf model and grumblings over the company’s top management.
Diess faced a grilling on production delays and quality issues with the new Golf 8 model.
In his report to the board, he was also expected to address criticism of a racist video advert for the car posted recently on the company’s social media, as well as address the company’s standing in China and potential further cooperation with US auto giant Ford.
Volkswagen’s Golf 8 was beset with problems as soon as it first started rolling off the production line in 2019. The company was far behind on its original target of building 100,000 vehicles in the first year, managing less than 10 per cent of that.
Bernd Osterloh, head of Volkswagen’s influential works council, has accused top management of a lack of involvement in finding solutions.
The problems have largely been down to errors in the Golf 8’s new software, IT and electronic systems.
Last week, Volkswagen was forced to apologize for an advert promoting the new model on its social media.
The clip showed a black man being pushed around on the street by an oversized white hand. When the words “Der neue Golf” (the new Golf) gradually appeared on the screen at the end, a combination of letters resembling the word “Neger” (nigger) emerged.
Influential figures representing the powerful IG Metall union at Volkswagen made their grievances with the management public on Thursday, writing in a statement posted online that they were “massively concerned by the many negative press reports about our company, for which the management board is responsible.”
The union warned that Volkswagen’s worsening reputation could damage customer loyalty and put jobs at risk as a result.
The statement on the union’s website cited the Golf production problems and the outcry over the offensive video as examples.
“It has reached the stage that an increasing number of colleagues are ashamed of their employer,” it said, adding that communication on such problems had been a “disaster.”