Volkswagen willl halt production one to two days per week at its Wolfsburg factory, starting in August and ending in late September, because authorities are taking longer than expected to certify cars under the new, more realistic Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP) emissions tests.
Reuters reports that Volkswagen’s Zwickau plant will also be closed on select days, although these have not yet been confirmed.
At a meeting with its works council in Wolfsburg in early June, Volkswagen Group CEO and VW brand boss Herbert Diess announced that the Wolfsburg factory might be forced to temporarily cease production of unspecified model variants from August, a month before WLTP certification becomes a legal requirement within the European Union.
Diess told the works council: “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. To master this challenge, our test rigs have been and will be operated virtually round the clock.”
A VW statement clarified that there is at least three times the amount of testing to be done compared with previous testing routines, meaning the company’s testing rigs are in constant demand and are now in operation 24 hours a day to catch up.
“We must expect production interruptions in the third quarter,” said Diess. “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.”
Chairman of the works council, Bernd Osterloh, protested at the proposed production halts, saying: “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.”
WLTP was introduced to replace the outdated and at times unreliable New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) tests in the aftermath of VW's Dieselgate emissions scandal.
VW R&D boss Frank Welsch told Autocar last month: “The problem is not having the technical solutions but what you have to have before [certification].