The legacy auto industry is facing perhaps the greatest restructuring in its history, and one unfortunate aspect of this is a growing wave of layoffs and buyouts. Of course, technological and geopolitical changes often lead to job losses. In the past, labor advocates have deplored the relocation of auto plants to low-wage countries and non-union Southern states. This time around, the automakers themselves are sounding the alarm (and an uncharitable mind might wonder if this is aimed at pressuring lawmakers to pump the brakes on the EV transition).
Most (not all) major automakers are more or less committed to electrification, but their profit margins on EVs remain low or non-existent, and pressure to cut costs is rising. Ford cut some 3,000 jobs last August. In March, GM offered a buyout program to most of its salaried workforce, and about 5,000 workers accepted the offer.
Now the Wall Street Journal reports that Stellantis is offering thousands of salaried and hourly workers voluntary separation packages. The WSJ cited an internal email from Mark Stewart, the company’s North American COO, in which Stewart attributed the move to the EV transition: “The competition is fierce, and the cost of electrification cannot be passed on to the customer.”
Buyouts will be offered to 31,000 hourly employees and 2,500 salaried workers in the US. Positions in Canada could also be impacted.
Stellantis has announced plans to invest at least $35 billion in electrification, and plans to offer 25 EV models in the US by 2030.
“In response to today’s increasingly competitive global market conditions and the necessary shift to electrification, Stellantis is thoroughly reviewing its North American operations to improve efficiency, reduce costs and protect the competitiveness of our products to allow for further strategic investments to support our transformation,” a Stellantis spokesperson told Business Insider.