April 15, 2019 / 3:40 AM / 8 months ago

Volkswagen pushes battery partners to build Gigafactories

FILE PHOTO: A Volkswagen logo is seen on a new car model at the 89th Geneva International Motor Show in Geneva, Switzerland, March 5, 2019. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Volkswagen is pushing its joint venture partners including SK Innovation (SKI) to build electric car battery plants which have at least one Gigawatt manufacturing capacity, Chief Executive Herbert Diess told Reuters.

“Anything below that amount would make little sense,” Diess said on the sidelines of the Shanghai Auto Show on Sunday.

Volkswagen will buy 50 billion euros ($56.57 billion) worth of battery cells for electric cars and has identified South Korea’s SKI, LG Chem and Samsung SDI as strategic battery cell suppliers as well as China’s Contemporary Amperex Technology Co Ltd (CATL).

The German automaker is retooling 16 factories to build electric vehicles and plans to start producing 33 different electric cars under the Skoda, Audi, VW and Seat brands by mid 2023.

“We are considering an investment in a battery manufacturer in order to reinforce our electrification offensive and build up the necessary know-how,” Volkswagen said.

SKI is building a battery cell manufacturing plant in the United States to supply Volkswagen’s plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

SKI will supply lithium-ion battery cells for an electric car that Volkswagen plans to start making in Chattanooga in 2022.

LG Chem, Samsung and SKI on will also supply battery cells for Volkswagen in Europe. CATL is the automaker’s strategic partner for China, and will supply batteries for its electric fleet from 2019.

Reporting by Edward Taylor; Editing by Christopher Cushing

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