13 Nov 2020, 15:00
Sören Amelang

Tesla poaches top Daimler manager; metalworkers’ union protests

Clean Energy Wire

Germany's metalworker's union IG Metall staged a protest against the switch of Daimler's Berlin plant manager to rival Tesla, the California-based electric car maker that is building a plant near the German capital. The manager’s move came after Daimler recently announced cost-cutting measures for all German plants, including the end of investments in Mercedes Benz's Berlin engine production plant, according to the union, which added it was currently working on ideas on how to save the Berlin plant. "We don't understand why such a traditional and innovative car manufacturer like Daimler wants to capitulate to its American competitor," the union said in a statement. Tesla hired Rene Reif, who was head of the Daimler plant until the end of last month, for its new "gigafactory" south of Berlin, according to media reports. Daimler told Berlin newspaper Morgenpost Reif was leaving for early retirement at the end of the year.

"It is unacceptable that Tesla is building an entirely new plant with 10,000 jobs less than 50 kilometres from the Mercedes Benz plant in Berlin, while Daimler management doesn't have any ideas other than to close its oldest manufacturing plant," said Jan Otto, head of the union’s Berlin branch. He added that the development was "devastating" for the premium car brand. The Mercedes Benz plant in Berlin is Daimler's oldest active manufacturing plant and employs 2,500 people producing engines, engine components, and transmissions, making it one of the largest industrial employers in the region, IG Metall said.

The take-up of electric vehicles has been slow in Germany in comparison to many other markets, and its premium carmakers Daimler and BMW have lost market shares to newcomer Tesla. But thanks to new government incentives, registrations have picked up sharply in recent months. Germany has been struggling to lower emissions in the transport sector, which have remained broadly stable for decades as gains from more efficient engines have been eaten up by heavier cars.

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Sven Egenter

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