Volkswagen will be celebrating its 80th anniversary on January 4, but despite its deep German roots, the auto manufacturer will usher in the new year with a farewell to German as it adopts English as its new official language.
The changeover doesn’t exactly spell doom for the German language at large, but Volkswagen felt the switch would streamline recruitment and make it easier to attract high-level management talent that may not have otherwise considered applying based on the language barrier.
Over the years, Volkswagen has become a global player in the auto industry with brands originating from all areas of the world, including Italy’s Lamborghini and Ducati, France’s Bugatti, Sweden’s Scania, the Czech Republic’s Skoda and Britain’s Bentley brand. Volkswagen has also made a large investment in the United States with its Chattanooga, TN production plant.
While the decision may make sense on a corporate level, there are quite a few people, and investors, who find the switch to be downright appalling.
Deutsche Sprache, a society that has positioned itself to product the German language in the business world, protested the decision by selling off its 200 shares it had invested in Volkswagen and called the recruitment barrier a poor excuse.
After the Dieselgate scandal, Volkswagen has found itself in a tough position with much of its leadership being called into question. Removing that barrier may seem like a stab at its very own roots, but it would be hard to argue against rising talent walking through the doors.
The Volkswagen name itself is very much German, translating to “People’s Automobile”, and when the company celebrates 80 years in a few short days, its name still stands true.