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Volkswagen hasn’t been shy about its plan to catch up to Tesla and become the world’s biggest manufacturer of electric cars. And on Monday, the German automaker laid out an aggressive strategy to expand its battery production and make major investments in charging infrastructure.
VW announced the plans at its first “Power Day” presentation on Monday, which emulated Tesla’s previous “Battery Day” events. During the live stream, executives said the company plans to build six battery-production plants in Europe by 2030 in order to secure battery supply.
“E-mobility has become core business for us. We are now systematically integrating additional stages in the value chain. We secure a long-term pole position in the race for the best battery and best customer experience in the age of zero-emission mobility,” VW Group CEO Herbert Diess said in a statement.
VW said each plant will have the capacity to produce 40-gigawatt hours per year, for a total of 240-gigawatt hours annually by 2030. Like Tesla, VW is calling the plants “gigafactories.”
At Tesla’s Battery Day last September, CEO Elon Musk said the company would be able to produce 3 terawatt-hours of energy every year.
VW is building the first two plants in Salzgitter, Germany, and Skelleftea, Sweden, with the latter being a joint venture between VW and battery manufacturer Northvolt. On Monday, Northvolt announced a $14 billion battery order from VW over the next decade and said the carmaker has increased its stake in the company.
Through improvements in cell design, production processes, and materials, VW aims to decrease battery costs by up to 50%.
The carmaker also detailed plans to vastly expand access to charging stations, which is a key hurdle to EV adoption globally.
VW plans to invest €400 million, or about $477 million, to quintuple the number of fast-charging points in Europe by 2025. The efforts will be buoyed by partnerships with European energy companies.
Outside of the European market, the carmaker aims to add roughly 3,500 fast-charging points to its Electrify America network in the US and Canada this year, and plans to build 17,000 plugs in China by 2025.
The carmaker has big plans for at-home charging as well. During Power Day, it showed off a “wall box” — similar to Tesla’s Powerwall — that can store energy from a home’s solar panels and feed it to VW cars. The system will be bidirectional, so battery-powered cars can also feed energy back into a home, residential building, or business if needed.
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