Volkswagen picks partners for $25bn battery orders in electric cars push

VW to plough €20 billion into European and Chinese electric vehicle development

Norway has long led sales of plug-in vehicles in Europe, with an aggressive program to reduce its vehicular carbon emissions that includes substantial tax cuts and other incentives for the purchase and use of electric cars.

The size of the investments is in striking contrast to the current market share of electric vehicles and German manufacturers are now lagging behind its competitors such as BAIC from China, Renault-Nissan and Tesla.

Volkswagen has talked a big game when it comes to introducing new electric cars, but now the automaker is setting up the production infrastructure to make that happen.

"This year and over the next few years, the brand will face severe challenges despite its improved competitiveness", VW said, citing costs for electric cars, technology and the new WLTP testing procedure for emissions and fuel consumption.

Today, the company revealed that it will increase its electric vehicle production capabilities by opening 16 new factories across the world by 2022.

The German manufacturer's plans to build as many as 3 million of the cars a year by 2025 is backstopped by deals with suppliers including Samsung SDI Co., LG Chem Ltd. and Contemporary Amperex Technology Ltd. for batteries in Europe and China.

Mueller, speaking at the company's annual news conference in Berlin, gave an upbeat view after last year's record sales of 10.7 million vehicles. The company will shortly launch it mass-market Model 3.

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To accommodate production, Müller said the company will adapt nine production sites to handle electric-vehicle production.

Already Germany's population of fast-charging sites is five times as dense as that of the USA, although North America has huge swaths of very sparsely populated areas that Germany doesn't.

"We are making massive investments in the mobility of tomorrow, but without neglecting current technologies and vehicles that will continue to play an important role for decades to come", said Dr Muller. We are putting nearly €20 billion into our conventional vehicle and drive portfolio in 2018, with a total of more than €90 billion [US$111 billion] scheduled over the next five years.

Tesla might still be a Wall Street darling, but while it keeps boasting about plans for the future, proven auto makers have joined the EV race.

While the entire world automobile market is thriving towards zero emission pure electric mobility, Volkswagen has its own reason to do so.

The main takeaway from this bit of news is that VW must be at least somewhat anxious about the future supply of batteries if its willing to tie up $25 billion in raw material and parts costs all for models that are still years away from production.

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