BERLIN (Reuters) -Volkswagen has begun searching for a site for the German carmaker's first battery cell factory in North America, its CEO announced on Thursday. Confirming an earlier Reuters story, Volkswagen CEO Oliver Blume and Canadian industry minister Francois-Philippe Champagne signed an addendum to their existing memorandum of understanding from August, agreeing to identify suitable sites for the planned cell plant. Blume said that battery technology was key for the company's strategy and that it was committed to investing in North America.
Volkswagen announced on Monday a $2.9 billion battery parts joint venture with Belgian materials firm Umicore, becoming the latest European automaker to bring battery supplies closer to home in the shift towards electric vehicles. While raw materials - among them lithium, cobalt, nickel and manganese - will still be largely sourced from across the world, cathode production for batteries will take place in Europe under the joint venture, most likely at Umicore's Poland plant.
Belgian firm Umicore sees its newly inaugurated battery materials plant in Poland potentially powering 3 million electric vehicles (EVs) in the second half of the decade, it said on Wednesday. The company said it saw potential to increase the plant's annual production capacity in gigawatt hours (GWh) to over 200 GWh in the second half of the decade, the equivalent of 3 million electric vehicles. "The current energy crisis will be a facilitator of electrification," Chief Executive Officer Mathias Miedreich said during a press conference, adding that "customers' electric vehicles are selling like never before".