Volkswagen committed to European plants: CEO


German carmaker Volkswagen will keep its plants in Europe despite weak markets in the region that will require flexible manufacturing and could entail cuts to temporary staff, Chief Executive Martin Winterkorn said.

Winterkorn had told shareholders in Europe's top carmaker on Thursday to brace for a tough year given faltering European consumer demand that is punishing the sector.

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In an interview with Austrian broadcaster ORF aired late on Friday, Winterkorn said VW would not follow the example of other automakers and scale back production in Europe.

"No, we will not withdraw any capacity from Europe but rather preserve capacity in Europe," he said. But he left the door open to trimming temporary staff that the company built up in boom years.

"The regular staff is certainly something we will hold on to. We will have to think about temporary staff," he said.

Volkswagen said last month it planned to almost double production capacity in China over the next five years to grab a bigger slice of fast-growing emerging markets and offset declining demand at home.

Its goal is to snatch the global sales crown from Japan's Toyota Motor Corp <7203.T> in 2018.

(Reporting by Michael Shields)