FRANKFURT, Feb 28 (Reuters) - Volkswagen (VOWG.DE), Europe's biggest carmaker, will not renew the contracts of all its 16,500 temporary workers this year in response to the brutal knock-down effects of the economic downturn on the car industry, Chief Executive Martin Winterkorn said.

In a Saturday prerelease of his interview with Der Spiegel magazine, Winterkorn said: We will no longer have any temporary workers by the end of 2009. That is not good for those who will be affected. But there is no other way to do it, he added.

He said the jobs of permanent workers are currently secured and the company is not considering mandatory job cuts at the moment because it could still tap other measures to cut production, such as cutting work hours.

But other steps would have to be considered if the situation worsens, he said. He did not provide details.

He said despite the industry crisis worldwide, VW is not stopping its construction of a new plant in the United States.

No. Why should we? I expect that the United States would have overcome its problems at the latest in 2011 when the plant is ready, he said.

(Reporting by Marilyn Gerlach; Editing by Ruth Pitchford)