HERNDON, Va. (AP) _ Volkswagen is moving its North American
headquarters from Michigan to Virginia next year and will cut 400
jobs, the German automaker said Thursday.
Volkswagen of America's move from Auburn Hills, Mich., to
Herndon, Va., will begin in April 2008 and be completed by the end
of next year, the company said.
It said that 600 of the current 1,400 staff will remain at Auburn
Hills in call centre and technical services positions, while 400
jobs will be transferred to Virginia. About 150 employees in
Michigan are expected to move to Herndon. The company's remaining
posts will be cut, Volkswagen AG said.
The company said that the decision to move made sense given that
it has most of its customers on the East and West coasts. The move
involves affiliated operations such as Audi of America, Audi
Financial Services and Volkswagen Credit.
``This move is part of our company's new corporate strategy of
connecting even more closely with our customers, and encouraging
fresh ideas and bold thinking,'' Volkswagen of America President and
CEO Stefan Jacoby said in a statement.
Gov. Timothy M. Kaine authorized incentives worth $6 million to
bring Volkswagen to northern Virginia. He said the state's skilled
workers and proximity to Dulles International Airport were
significant factors in luring the company.
Kaine said he was particularly pleased to add a major automotive
company to Virginia's corporate roster following the loss of a Ford
Motor Co. manufacturing plant in Norfolk, which closed earlier this
Volkswagen does not have an assembly plant in the United States
but has expressed interest in building one. Kaine said he hoped that
Volkswagen would pick Virginia if it chooses to expand.
Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn said that ``the U.S. market has
top priority for Volkswagen.''
In Lansing, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm met with Jacoby on
Wednesday evening after a report in The Detroit News that VW was
considering the move. Neither commented after the meeting.
``The governor is always making the case for Michigan, and she
will continue making the case for Michigan,'' Granholm spokeswoman
Liz Boyd said earlier in the day.
Shares of Wolfsburg, Germany-based Volkswagen were barely changed
Thursday, edging down less than 0.1 per cent to 150.22 euros
($204.52) in Frankfurt trading.
Volkswagen AG is the world's fourth largest producer of passenger
cars and is Europe's largest automaker.