ZWICKAU (dpa-AFX) - Due to weak demand for e-cars and competition from Chinese manufacturers, the IG Metall trade union is pressing for cheaper models from Germany. "Eastern Germany has worked hard to gain a lead in the production of electric vehicles in national and international comparisons," explained union head Jorg Hofmann before an automotive conference in Zwickau on Wednesday. "It is important to maintain this." To do this, he said, there needs to be a faster expansion of the charging infrastructure and cheap charging power for e-cars. On the other hand, manufacturers would have to offer models that even an average wage earner could afford.

The conference in Zwickau will focus on the situation of the industry between the drive turnaround, the circular economy and the shortage of skilled workers. Volkswagen recently made headlines with the announcement of job cuts at its Zwickau e-car factory. Due to weak demand, almost 270 employees with temporary contracts will have to leave, and many of the other 2,000 or so temporary employees are now fearing for their jobs. Volkswagen also plans to cut production there in October and shut down an entire production line for at least two weeks. More than 10,000 people work at the site.

"The job cuts in Zwickau should be a wake-up call for anyone dreaming of business as usual," warned Dirk Schulze, head of IG Metall's Berlin-Brandenburg-Saxony district. "Automakers and suppliers need to speed up the mobility turnaround by investing in lightweight construction, software and digital." And they would have to quickly bring low-cost e-models to market to compete with China in particular.

Schulze sees eastern Germany as a leading location for electromobility. To this end, he pointed to production facilities of Volkswagen, Tesla, BMW and Porsche, as well as several battery manufacturers. "We must not jeopardize this upswing in the east now."/hum/DP/zb