Herbert Diess, CEO of Volkswagen, believes that the German industry has enormous potential in the battery sector. Today, the vast majority of cells are of Asian origin; however, Volkswagen itself is already building its gigafactory in Salzgitter in collaboration with Sweden’s Northvolt. It has also acquired 20% of the Chinese manufacturer Guoxuan.
“That is why we are very committed to batteries, and we continue to invest. Germany could play a leading role if we finally make up our minds.” Diess expects the cells to improve their capabilities dramatically in the coming years, an opportunity that could be seized by the Germans to close the gap with Asian leaders.
However, the manager is disappointed by the lack of ambition of the indigenous companies: Bosch, Continental, and ZF have so far renounced the large-scale production of cells, an attitude that contrasts with that of the French Saft (Total), which allied with its compatriots Renault and PSA (Peugeot-Citroën, Opel) intends to have two gigafactories in operation in Europe in the short term.
Furthermore, Asian producers are establishing themselves in the old continent at breakneck speed: LG Chem, SK Innovation, Samsung SDI, CATL, Svolt … All of them have or will have battery manufacturing plants in Europe in the short term, while the Local industry remains dormant despite the efforts of the European Union authorities and companies like Northvolt and Saft.
On the other hand, another aspect in which Diess emphasizes is the importance that software will have in the electric car industry in the coming years. Taking Tesla as a point of reference, today, Volkswagen is developing its operating system, which it will later offer other manufacturers to install in their cars.
While admitting that Tesla is way ahead in this field, Diess insists that Volkswagen is also “doing well.” In recent times, the German multinational has hired many technicians specialized in software development, including some from the West Coast of the United States, to close the gap with its competitor.