German car manufacturer Volkswagen has announced plans to invest some €15bn in developing electric and autonomous vehicles in China by 2022.
There are already high expectations for the market of electric and autonomous vehicles in China, and Volkswagen’s big investment is seen as a vote of confidence in the emerging technologies. The Chinese car market could soon reach the size of the EU and the US’ markets combined, with some 28.9m car sales last year.
The announcement was made by Volkswagen’s new chief executive Herbert Diess ahead of the Beijing Auto Show, on what marks Diess’ first foreign trip as CEO of the company. The show opens today in Beijing, China, and will run until 4 May.
What does Volkswagen’s plan involve?
Diess said that the market for electric vehicles in China is soon expected to be the biggest in the world. In recognition of this, VW, The world’s largest car manufacturer plans to restructure its operations, and to establish a new business unit dedicated to expanding the role of electric and autonomous vehicles in China.
The company intends to produce battery-powered cars in at least six factories in China by 2021. Over the course of the next eight years, VW aims to release around 40 models into the Chinese car market, and will also produce a brand new electric vehicle brand in conjunction with a local partner.
The joint venture with Chinese company Anhui Jianghui Automobile (JAC) to launch the new vehicle brand, dubbed SOL, will see the launch of an electric SUV, which the company estimates will be capable of a range of more than 300 kilometres on a single charge.
Funds for the investment plan will be provided by Volkswagen, alongside some local joint-venture partners, and Diess said at a press conference during which the announcement was made that it would be used to “make mobility cleaner, safer and more intelligent to really improve people’s lives.”