VW could increase its global workforce to 500,000 employees by the end of 2012.

Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn had previously gone on record to say that VW Group was looking to expand personnel to 500,000 employees by 2018, but now it looks like the automaker could reach that total sooner than previous expected.

Winterkorn stated in an interview published by newspaper Bild am Sonntag that VW could grow its global workforce to as many as 500,000 employees by the end of 2012, an increase from the current figure of 449,000 workers.

The move comes as VW continues to move forward with its oft-mentioned plan of becoming the world's largest automaker by 2018 with sales of more than 10 million units and profit margins of at least eight percent.

One of the central components of VW's expansion strategy is the continued implementation of the automaker's modular component system.

"You are no longer competitive in the auto industry without such a strategy. Our modular approach reduces costs, production and development time and makes possible an even greater variety of models and technologies," Winterkorn said.

"For example, the modular transverse platform reduces one-time and unit costs by 20 percent. The production time per vehicle decreases by about 30 percent, to say nothing of the significant reductions in weight and emissions."

VW will count on the modular components system to help hold the line on engineering costs to the current level of four percent of revenue. The automaker is also likely to cap employment at about 500,000 to ensure high levels of productivity and efficiency.

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