Volkswagen plans to begin market an electric vehicle in China as early as 2013, and may design a battery vehicle specifically for the Asian nation, a senior company official said.
Now the world’s largest national automotive market, China is struggling with a variety of problems, including the challenge of maintaining oil supplies and the need to reduce the severe pollution that chokes its major cities. That has led the Beijing government to encourage makers, both domestic and foreign, to begin turning to electric propulsion.
Karl-Thomas Neumann, the president of Volkswagen China Group, said VW will produce battery-electric cars, or BEVs, in China, through its two separate joint ventures, one with FAW Group, the other with SAIC Motor. During a conference on electric vehicles in Shenzhen, Neumann also suggested VW may develop a battery car specifically for the Chinese market.
Currently, Volkswagen is working on a variety of electrification programs, from conventional hybrids to pure BEVs. Among the latter is the eUP, a battery-powered version of its new microcar, the VW UP. Its first model to reach China will be a hybrid version of the Touareg SUV, which will go on sale there this year.
“There is a very strong argument that electric cars are the right move for China, although there are still many challenges,” Neumann said, during the Shenzhen event. “China is making huge investments in renewable energy.”