VW plans for battery plant: prefer North America to Eastern Europe?

Status: 08.03.2023 4:13 p.m

Because of the billions in US subsidies, more and more German companies are planning increased investments in the United States. Apparently, Volkswagen is now shelving plans for a European battery cell factory.

In view of the massive US subsidies for climate-friendly investments, Volkswagen is apparently reconsidering its plans to build a battery cell factory in Eastern Europe. According to the “Financial Times”, the Wolfsburg-based car manufacturer has put the planned construction of a plant at possible locations in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland or Slovakia on hold for the time being. Instead, VW is now giving priority to North America, as the group can receive up to ten billion euros in US subsidies.

A VW spokesman said suitable locations in both Eastern Europe and North America were being considered. The Reuters news agency reported that plans for new locations in Europe have not been stopped, according to insiders. However, progress is faster in North America.

“Race for billions investments”

Volkswagen’s Chief Technology Officer Thomas Schmall called for a rapid response from the European Union to the subsidies provided for in the US legislative package “Inflation Reduction Act” (IRA). “My hope is that politicians in Brussels and the European capitals will now quickly pull the lever and enable companies to build the industry of the future here.”

The EU must come to terms with the state aid for corporations in China and North America, said the car manager. “The terms of IRA are so attractive that Europe is in danger of losing the race for billions in investments, which will be decided in the coming months and years.”

In addition, the EU needs a strategy to secure critical raw materials, green electricity at competitive prices below seven cents per kilowatt hour and a strong focus on cell production, according to Schmall. The key now is speed, as the Inflation Reduction Act is already in place and delivering results.

VW waiting for details of the “Green Deal”

A group spokesman said that Volkswagen is sticking to its plan to build battery cell factories in Europe by 2030 with an output of around 240 gigawatt hours. However, the right framework conditions are required for this. “That’s why we’re waiting to see what the EU’s so-called Green Deal will bring.” Originally, Volkswagen had planned to build six battery plants in Europe.

The VW CFO Arno Antlitz had already said at a conference call to present the preliminary business figures last week that he was expecting a tailwind from the US subsidy program worth billions. There was no mention of the Supervisory Board deliberating on a battery cell factory in North America. In the past, Volkswagen had also mentioned Canada as a possible location for a battery cell factory.

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