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Volkswagen may cut as many as 20,000 jobs over the next three years as part of a drive to boost profits and cut costs, the automaker announced Friday.

"Up to 20,000 direct and indirect employees within the Volkswagen passenger car brand could be affected by this restructuring program," the company said in a statement.

Volkswagen said it would offer early retirement packages and other incentives to persuade workers to leave voluntarily. Almost a third of its 340,000 worldwide workforce is in Germany.

News of the restructuring came as the automaker announced preliminary figures that pointed to higher sales and operating profits for 2005.

None of the cuts will take place in Canada. A VW Canada spokesperson said the company will actually expand its Canadian management when it moves product planning and marketing responsibilities back to Canada from the U.S.

VW does not manufacture or assemble any vehicles in Canada.