It's as if the diesel emissions scandal never happened.
Volkswagen AG said on Thursday it has expanded its workforce by 2 percent since the start of the year, bringing total headcount to 624,000.
It's great that VW creates lots of jobs, of course. Its Audi subsidiary just opened a brand new plant in Mexico, employing some 4,200 people.
But no other carmaker makes the list of the world's 15 biggest employers. VW's position isn't sustainable, nor is it healthy.
VW needs to slim down. Rivals are much more productive. GM and Toyota make a similar number of vehicles with far fewer people.
VW's core brand suffers from far weaker operating margins than French peers such as Renault.
And those competitors haven't had to set aside more than 18 billion euros ($19.6 billion) so far to cover legal and compensation costs linked to the diesel emissions scandal.
Worse still, some 45 percent of VW employees are in high-cost Germany. But that market accounted for only 13 percent of car sales in the year to date.
VW suffers from an entrenched labor union that makes compulsory layoffs impossible. When the VW brand boss Herbert Diess dared to suggest the workforce needed to shrink earlier this month he got booed.
It's crazy that VW has as many employees as ISS A/S, G4S Plc and Compass Group Plc, companies that provide armies of cleaners, security guards and catering staff.
Diess is right. VW needs to cut the fat.
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.
We compared VW's third-quarter employee count with other companies' latest annual filing. Not all companies give an employee count every quarter. It's possible other companies have added lots of employees recently too.
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Chris Bryant in Frankfurt at firstname.lastname@example.org
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