Volkswagen CEO sees production rebound

Volkswagen logo is pictured at the 2022 New York International Auto Show, in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., April 13, 2022. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

DAVOS, Switzerland, May 25 (Reuters) - Volkswagen AG Chief Executive Herbert Diess said he sees "clear improvement" in semiconductor supplies and expects the automaker's global production can recover during the rest of this year.

Diess, speaking on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum conference in Davos, Switzerland, said disruptions to Volkswagen's supply chain in Ukraine are also easing. Russia's invasion of Ukraine temporarily halted production of wiring harnesses and other components used in Volkswagen vehicles.

"The situation from Ukraine is under control now if nothing bad really happens anymore we won't lose too many cars," Diess said.

Diess and other senior Volkswagen executives covered a wide range of topics in a meeting with reporters.

Volkswagen plans to decide this year on a site in the United States to assemble its proposed Scout brand electric trucks and SUVs, Diess said. The company is assessing "brownfield sites and some greenfield locations," he said, using terms for existing manufacturing facilities and open fields where completely new factories could be built.

Volkswagen Chief Financial Officer Arno Antlitz said the company isn't ruling out an eventual share listing for the Scout brand, but it is too soon for that now.

Scout is part of a broader effort by Volkswagen to expand its presence in the United States market, not just for passenger vehicles but commercial vehicles as well, Diess and other executives said.

Volkswagen plans to spend 7 billion euros over the next five years beefing up its U.S. product line, including the addition of an electric pickup truck, Antlitz said.

Diess said he is confident Volkswagen can secure enough batteries to supply its electric vehicle production through 2025, but he suggested some rivals could fall short.

"Are there enough batteries? Probably not. Are there as many batteries as we ordered? Yes, for sure," Diess said.

Stellantis Chief Executive Carlos Tavares warned yesterday that automakers could face a battery supply crunch by 2024-2025.

Reporting By Leela de Kretser in Davos and Victoria Waldersee in Berlin. Written by Joseph White in Detroit Editing by Nick Zieminski

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