Volkswagen invests 2.1 bn euros in two Chinese electric vehicle players

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Volkswagen said it will invest 2.1 billion euros in two Chinese electric vehicle players as part of its strategy to enhance business in China, the world’s biggest auto market.

Global rivals such as General Motors, Toyota and Tesla are also expanding electric sales in the Chinese car market.

Volkswagen will invest 1 billion euros to take a 50 percent stake in the state-owned parent of Anhui Jianghuai Automobile Group (JAC Motors), also taking full management control of the its existing electric vehicle joint venture with JAC by raising its stake to 75 percent from 50 percent.

Volkswagen’s China chief Stephan Woellenstein told reporters on Friday the venture planned to revamp one existing JAC plant and launch its first electric model based on its MEB platform, an architecture enabling efficient production of various EV models, in 2023.

The joint venture will launch five more electric models by 2025, when the German giant aims to sell 1.5 million new energy vehicles (NEV) – including battery electric cars as well as plug-in hybrid and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles – a year in China.

In a separate transaction, Volkswagen will make an investment of 1.1 billion euros to buy 26.5 percent of Guoxuan High-tech, a maker of electric vehicle batteries, becoming its biggest shareholder. Volkswagen said Guoxuan, based in Hefei like JAC, will supply batteries to its EV models in China.

Anhui province, where Hefei is located, will be Volkswagen’s EV manufacturing hub in China. The Wolfsburg-based automaker has not changed its EV strategy in China after the global gasoline market tumbled, he said.

He added China’s overall auto sales in the second half of this year will be level with same period last year. Volkswagen China’s full-year sales will be lower than last year due to the sales loss in the first months.

China has set a target of 25 percent of 2025 annual vehicle sales to be made up of NEVs. More than 25 million vehicles were sold in China last year.

Tesla last year became the first foreign automaker to own a car plant in China.

Volkswagen also has ventures with state-owned China FAW Group and SAIC Motor.