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VW plugs into China

Plugged in: Volkswagen is coming from behind in the EV stakes, despite last year producing a plug-in hybrid Golf concept called TwinDrive.

Chinese battery deal could rush Volkswagen into the electric car driver’s seat

2 Jun 2009

VOLKSWAGEN has turned to China for assistance in developing future hybrid and electric cars.

The German giant last week signed a deal with lithium ion battery producer BYD, which also builds what is claimed to be the world’s first mass-produced plug-in hybrid car.

According to the Wall Street Journal, BYD has been able to produce stable and durable lithium ion batteries at half the cost of batteries produced in the west and in Japan, due to its more cost-effective iron-phosphate-based lithium ion technology.

BYD’s own E6 hybrid sedan appeared at this year’s Detroit auto show and in April appeared on the cover of Fortune magazine with billionaire Warren Buffett, who has invested $A284 million in the Chinese company.

VW has been criticised for favouring small diesels, at the cost of dropping behind in the development of hybrid and electric vehicles, but already has technical links with battery suppliers Sanyo and Toshiba.

 center image Left: Volkswagen Golf TwinDrive.

However, it broadened its battery options last week when chairman Martin Winterkorn signed a memorandum of understanding with his counterpart at BYD, Wang Chuanfu, “to explore the options for partnership in the area of hybrids and electric vehicles powered by lithium batteries”.

Ulrich Hackenberg, the VW board member responsible for technical development, said he insisted on personally providing the Chinese delegation with information on a visit to the company’s Elektrotraktion Technology Centre and driving VW electric concept vehicles such as last year’s Golf TwinDrive at the company’s Wolfsburg test track.

“Volkswagen will consistently expand its successful ‘BlueMotionTechnologies’,” said Dr Hackenberg.

“Hybrids and electric vehicles will play an increasingly important role, of course. Particularly for the Chinese market, potential partners such as BYD could support us in quickly expanding our activities.”

Read more:

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