GENEVA - BMW will reduce its work force by more than 1,000 additional jobs this year through natural attrition, the German firm’s chief executive said yesterday.
Norbert Reithofer said further reductions in head count would depend on market conditions during 2009. The company had 100,000 employees at the end of last year, after some 4,000 took advantage of a buyout offer and a further 3,500 left through natural turnover and were not replaced.
"2009 will be a very difficult year for our industry," he told reporters on the sidelines of the Geneva auto show. Reithofer said the latest figures for Germany and the United States - among the most important markets for BMW - indicated that the drop in sales seen in January would continue or even worsen in February.
Overall January U.S. auto sales were down 37 percent year-on-year, and registrations in Germany dropped 14 percent during the month compared to 2008.
"I see no reason for euphoria," Reithofer said, adding that recovery would likely start slowly in 2010.BMW was strong enough to survive alone, but that didn't preclude cooperation with other auto makers, he said. "The business independence of our company is our greatest asset," he added.
BMW's offering at the Geneva show is comparatively meager this year. The company is presenting a powerful new coupe version of its large 7-series car in Geneva. Its Mini brand is introducing an entry-level station wagon model, dubbed the "Clubman."