The Volkswagen Group switches official language to English

Help wanted.

The Volkswagen Group can't be fairly thought of as entirely German anymore, so the news that the company is switching its official language to English to help attract managers and executives is a rational, if surprising, decision. While many VW Group companies are still staidly German in character and culture, consider the other companies that it controls: Bentley (British), Bugatti (French), Ducati and Lamborghini (Italian), Skoda (Czech), Scania trucks (Swedish), and SEAT (Spanish). Not to mention the large Volkswagen Group of America operation, which constructs cars in Chattanooga, TN.

Volkswagen's explicit motivation is to improve management recruitment – making sure the company isn't losing out on candidates for important positions because they can't speak German – and that's inherently sensible in a globalized economy. Particularly considering, like it or lump it, that English is the lingua franca of said global economy. It also should make it inherently easier to communicate between its world-wide subsidiaries and coordinate operations.

It's hard to say for sure if this will have any impact on the consumer, although it's easy to see the benefits if, say, VW Group hires some American product planners or engineers and they push for features and designs that more closely suit American needs. After all, the US is a hugely important market for any manufacturer, and so the switch to English almost certainly has something to do with the outsized influence of the US in the global economy. And there doesn't seem to be a downside from a purely rational perspective, although it could mean that the Group's corporate culture becomes less German. Whether that's a good or a bad thing depends on your perspective.

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