May 28, 2024

Volkswagen aims to launch dozens of new cars — including several electric models — in China by 2030 as part of an ambitious plan to conquer more of the world’s largest auto market.

The German carmaker will add 16 new models to its ID family of vehicles by 2030, including five new electric vehicles that will come to the Chinese market by 2027. Twelve new gas-powered engine and six hybrid models will also debut by the end of the decade, Volkswagen said Wednesday.

At least four additional entry-level EVs will be built on a planned platform made by Volkswagen’s branch in China. By the end of the year, Volkswagen plans to have grown its research and development team in Anhui province to 3,000 employees. The company expects to finish designing the platform by 2026.

The first new model to hit the market will be the ID. UNYX, a crossover SUV equipped with a 3D avatar and a large language model. It’s expected to launch in China later this year.

Volkswagen is also advancing its relationships with local automakers, such as Xpeng, Thundersoft, and Horizon Robotics. Xpeng and Volkswagen plan to launch two new mid-class vehicles by 2026. Workers at Horizon and Volkswagen’s joint venture will work on autonomous driving and infotainment systems.

“The Volkswagen brand can already look back on 40 years of success in China, and we are continuing this success story into the new mobility era, thus confirming the trust of our Chinese customers,” Volkswagen CEO Thomas said in a statement. “We are ushering in a new era of mobility in China, together with our Chinese partners.”

The push for success is part of Volkswagen’s “in China, for China” strategy, which prioritizes accelerating model development and catering to Chinese customers accustomed to high-tech features and useful add-ons.

In late 2022, electric car titan BYD snatched the title of best-selling car brand in China from Volkswagen. Last year, the German carmaker’s share of the market slipped to 14.5% from 19.3% in 2020, weakened by fewer sales of gas-powered cars.

Now, Volkswagen wants to boost its market share to 15%. That comes out to selling about 4 million cars in China each year by 2030, up from 3.07 million in 2023, according to the company.

Volkswagen sold 693,600 cars in China during the first three months of the year. That’s a 7.6% increase compared to the 644,500 units it sold a year prior.

However, that’s a task easier said than done. China’s auto market is embroiled in a price war led by BYD, which has repeatedly launched cheaper cars and slashed EV prices in recent months. In return, rival carmakers have issued their own cuts or added new incentives.

“Prices are going faster down than the cost improvements,” Ralf Brandstaetter, a Volkswagen management board member and head of the China division, told analysts at an event. “We expect in the next years, the next two years especially, that this price war will continue.”

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