"En particular en el mercado chino, socios como BYD podrían respaldarnos en una rápida expansión de nuestras actividades", dijo en un comunicado Ulrich Hackenberg, jefe de investigación y desarrollo de la marca VW.
El acuerdo, que fue firmado la semana pasada pero que no se anunció hasta el lunes, representa la tercera asociación de este tipo de Volkswagen, que ya firmó cartas de entendimiento con Sanyo Electric Co en mayo del año pasado y con Toshiba Corp en febrero.
Las automotrices compiten para desarrollar baterías de iones de litio de última generación para fabricar vehículos eléctricos que sean alternativas viables a los de motores de combustión interna.
Los beneficios ambientales dependen de si la energía es de fuentes renovables, como la eólica o la solar. Sin embargo, los autos eléctricos son considerados una solución a corto plazo a las emisiones de dióxido de carbono.
BYD may supply VW with batteries for plug-ins
Volkswagen AG said it is exploring options for teaming up with China’s BYD Co. on hybrid and electric vehicles powered by lithium batteries — highlighting auto makers’ efforts to secure battery supplies for alternative-energy vehicles.
The companies are exploring the possibility that Shenzhen-based BYD would supply a lithium-ion battery technology it developed for plug-in hybrid and all-electric battery-powered cars, people familiar with the negotiations said.
Volkswagen, based in Wolfsburg, Germany, would be the first major automotive partner for BYD, which moved into the spotlight last year when a company controlled by investor Warren Buffett invested $230 million in the Chinese car maker, mainly because of BYD’s cost-effective technology.
BYD — one of the world’s biggest producers of cellphone batteries and a fledgling, fast-rising auto maker in China — caused a stir in December by launching a plug-in car ahead of more-established foreign rivals.
"Hybrids and electric vehicles will play an increasingly important role," Ulrich Hackenberg, VW’s executive board member for technical development, said in a prepared statement. "Particularly for the Chinese market, potential partners such as BYD could support us in quickly expanding our activities."
BYD also is talking to Ford Motor Co. and another European auto maker about similar arrangements, the people said. The status of those negotiations wasn’t clear.
"We are always in discussions with many suppliers as a standard course of our business, but we have nothing to share at this time," said Whitney Small, a Ford spokeswoman in Bangkok.
Concerns over gasoline shortages and climate change have prompted a global race to commercialize affordable electric-battery cars and plug-in hybrids that get most of their power from batteries.
A big obstacle is insufficient industry capacity to produce lithium-ion batteries, which is pushing auto makers like VW to team up with multiple lithium-ion battery suppliers. Aside from BYD, Volkswagen has signed letters of intent with Sanyo Electric Co. and Toshiba Corp., both of Japan. Volkswagen’s premium Audi AG brand last year agreed to cooperate with Sanyo on developing lithium-ion batteries, saying the new technology should be ready for large-scale production in 2012.
While lithium-ion batteries are widely seen as the technology that will ultimately power most plug-in cars, the batteries’ use has been hindered by a relatively high price, limited durability and safety concerns. BYD says it has largely resolved those issues by turning to a safer, more cost-effective technology: iron-phosphate-based lithium-ion technology.
Lithium-ion batteries produced in China are generally about half the cost of such batteries made in Japan and the West. Costs may rise as Chinese auto makers invest to improve their technology, however.
Germany’s Daimler AG last week announced it will buy a 10% stake in Silicon Valley electric-vehicle start-up Tesla Motors Inc. for "a sum in the double-digit millions of euros." Daimler and Tesla already were moving to integrate Tesla’s lithium-ion battery packs and charging electronics into the first 1,000 electric versions of Daimler’s tiny Smart two-seater. As part of the closer relationship, Daimler and Tesla will intensify development of battery systems, electric-drive systems and individual vehicle projects.
Volkswagen and Chinese Automaker BYD to Explore Electric Vehicle Partnership
Volkswagen and Chinese automaker BYD (Build Your Dreams) have signed a “memorandum of understanding” announcing that the two car manufacturers will seek ways to work together to bring electric vehicles and hybrids to market.
Volkswagen recently announced its TwinDrive diesel-electric hybrid system and we recently reported on a rumor that the German automaker will bring an electric car to the Frankfurt Auto Show in September. BYD, which is now part-owned by Warren Buffett, already has a two plug-in gasoline-electric hybrids (the F3DM and the F6DM) on the road in China and plans to bring a full electric car (the e6) to market soon.
After an informal meeting in Germany, where BYD representatives had the chance to see VW’s facilities and drive the TwinDrive Golf (as well as the still-under-wraps electric car), the agreement was signed by Chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen AG, Dr Martin Winterkorn, and the Chairman of the Board of Management of BYD, Wang Chuanfu.
Official release after the jump:
Volkswagen and BYD sign memorandum of understanding.
Partnership in the area of electric mobility to be explored.
Wolfsburg, 25 May 2009 – During an informational visit by the Chinese carmaker BYD “Build Your Dreams” – led by the Chairman of the Board of Management, Wang Chuanfu – a memorandum of understanding was signed last week by Mr Wang and Dr Winterkorn.
Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, Member of the Board for Technical Development at Volkswagen, insisted on personally providing the delegation of Chinese top managers with information. The visit, which took place first at the Elektrotraktion Technology Centre in Isenbüttel and then at the test tracks in Wolfsburg, featured technical discussions and test drives with a variety of vehicles such as the Golf twinDrive and the prototype for an electric vehicle. “Volkswagen will consistently expand its successful ‘BlueMotionTechnologies’. Hybrids and electric vehicles will play an increasingly important role, of course. Particularly for the Chinese market, potential partners such as BYD could support us in quickly expanding our activities,” emphasised Dr Hackenberg.
Afterwards, the Chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen AG, Dr Martin Winterkorn, and the Chairman of the Board of Management of BYD, Wang Chuanfu, signed a memorandum of understanding. The objective of signing a memorandum of understanding between Volkswagen and BYD is to explore the options for partnership in the area of hybrids and electric vehicles powered by lithium batteries.