BEIJING — German automaker Volkswagen is investing about $1 billion in China for electric car development, and releasing a vehicle targeted at a higher end of the market.
The company announced at the Shanghai auto show this week it is investing around 1 billion euros (about $1.1 billion) in an electric car development and business center in Hefei — a city near Shanghai that’s become an auto hub, home to Nio’s China office and others.
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German investment in China grew by nearly 61% in the first quarter from a year ago, China’s Ministry of Commerce said Thursday. Overall, foreign investment in China grew by 4.9% year-on-year in the first three months of the year to 408.45 billion yuan ($59.33 billion).
New business center
Volkswagen’s new business center is set to be operated by a new company called “100%TechCo” and is set to launch in 2024 with more than 2,000 employees, the automaker said in a release.
The new entity’s CEO will be Marcus Hafkemeyer, currently Volkswagen’s chief technology officer in China, the release said.
By involving local suppliers at the early stage of product development and integrating Volkswagen’s three joint ventures in China, 100%TechCo can reduce product and tech development times by about 30%, the automaker claimed.
New electric sedan
Volkswagen this week also held the world premiere of its new ID.7 sedan. The all-electric vehicle is set to launch in China and Europe this fall, and North America next year.
Vehicles for China will be produced locally, while those for Europe and North America will be produced in Germany, Volkswagen said.
The German company did not disclose a price, but said the ID.7 is its first fully electric car “for the upper mid-size class.”
China is the world’s largest market for electric cars. In March, sales of luxury cars grew by 17% year-on-year — faster than the 0.3% increase for passenger car sales, according to the China Passenger Car Association.
The ID.7 is set to have a range of up to 700 kilometers (435 miles) and include technologies such as assistance for changing lanes on highways and parking, according to a release.
The sedan also features an “augmented reality head-up display” — a technology that allows information about the road and car to appear to the driver as projections on the road ahead. Volkswagen first introduced the tech in its electric ID.3 and ID.4 models.
The ID.7 is set to come with a panoramic sunroof whose transparency can be changed with a function similar to a touch screen — and voice command, the company said.