Volkswagen AG’s plan to list its truck division later this month will test whether it can pull off a feat that was once unthinkable for the German automotive giant: get smaller.

For decades, the world’s biggest carmaker only knew how to expand -- adding Bentley luxury cruisers, Ducati racing bikes and Scania heavy trucks while taking its network of factories well past the 100 mark and its headcount over 640,000.

Herbert Diess
Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

Even in the face of the debilitating diesel-cheating scandal in 2015, the manufacturer didn’t trim its portfolio, bolstering investment in electric cars instead and even creating a new division...