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Reviews Volkswagen boss Herbert Diess: "If the Green Deal comes, we will need 40 large battery factories in Europe"

10:55  11 december  2020
10:55  11 december  2020 Source:   wiwo.de

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Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess . Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg. Listen to article. Diess bumps elbows with Wayne Griffiths, who was appointed president of VW ’s Spanish car “Yes, we need our own operational system to really be able to manage the car, keep the car safe, connect

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Volkswagen boss Herbert Diess tries to get German companies to move away from battery cell production. In an interview, he explains what it is all about.

VW-Chef Herbert Diess. © AP VW boss Herbert Diess.

WirtschaftsWoche: Mr. Diess, why are the Chinese and Americans building huge battery factories in Germany, but not German industry?

Herbert Diess: A good question. I've talked to everyone in Germany, but they've given up. And so the Swedish company Northvolt will set up a battery factory in Germany together with Volkswagen.

Who let them down, the car manufacturers or the suppliers?

The car manufacturers are of little help here. The batteries are typically supplier products. I've talked to major suppliers.

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VW boss Herbert Diess has many of the qualities needed to manage that transition, including a long-term vision, an eye for unnecessary costs and dogged Diess ’s strategy envisages that battery cars will comprise 40 percent of VW sales by 2030, a much bigger commitment than most peers have made.

Do you think that the suppliers will move again when they see the acceleration through the Green Deal and the good sales figures for electric cars?

It can be worth it. I spoke to the head of CATL for the first time about ten years ago and asked him if he could imagine making batteries for cars. At that time, CATL produced batteries for smartphones. At first he declined because he thought he couldn't build batteries that big. But then he did it. Today CATL is not only the largest, but also the most innovative battery manufacturer in the world. I have always assumed that in a few years an industry will emerge for batteries with as much sales as the total of the suppliers. The fear of low margins has not come true either. The operating margin at CATL is in the double-digit range.

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But Volkswagen 's new boss Herbert Diess said last month that spinning off Diesel & Turbo, Renk or motorcycle brand Ducati was a possibility as the group's Plans include preparing the group's trucks division for a separate listing. " We will discuss how we can further develop the engineering operations

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Do you make another attempt to convince the German suppliers after all?

I am always in conversation with the German suppliers. Many suppliers feel it is too late to get started. I am convinced of the opposite. We are still at the very beginning of the development. If the EU's Green Deal goes as it is, the battery factories announced so far in Europe will only cover around five to ten percent of demand. If the Green Deal comes, we will need 40 large battery factories in Europe.

Nevertheless, the question remains whether the German suppliers would even be able to set up such battery factories. They lack the experience of a CATL.

Volkswagen is building a battery factory in Salzgitter together with the Swedish company Northvolt. This is an innovative, young and still relatively small company. Building the planned plant in Sweden and ours here in Germany is a big challenge. That would be a manageable task for the large German suppliers. Also for the classic system builder. It's about mechanical engineering, process engineering, chemistry. All things that German companies have mastered. Instead, we prefer to discuss synthetic fuels ...

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BERLIN/FRANKFURT/MUNICH (Reuters) - Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE) may have to step up its plans for mass production of electric vehicles in order to meet tougher-than-expected European targets to cut greenhouse emissions from cars, its chief executive said on Tuesday.

... that is, new, climate-friendly fuels for combustion engines. Many in Germany see this as an alternative to the electric car, including Friedrich Merz from the CDU, for example. Is he wrong?

The production of synthetic fuels uses large amounts of electricity. For the same distance, a car with synthetic fuels needs five to six times more electricity than an e-car. Therefore, the technology is ideally suited for niche applications. If you still want to drive your Porsche 911 with a combustion engine in 2030, you can fill up with synthetic fuel for five euros per liter. But for the masses this is unthinkable from an economic point of view alone. The subject is through. Everyone knows that the climate targets in the coming years can only be achieved with the electric car.

More on the topic: Strict EU climate regulations threaten German car manufacturers and their suppliers - and endanger the transformation to electromobility.

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