This photo taken on July 4, 2022 shows a workshop of the Volkswagen Anhui MEB (Modular Electric Drive Matrix) plant under construction in the Hefei area of the pilot free trade zone (FTZ) in east China's Anhui Province. (Xinhua)
HEFEI, Nov. 3 (Xinhua) -- Noting that China is the world's largest new energy vehicle (NEV) market that cannot be neglected by international carmakers, Erwin Gabardi, CEO of Volkswagen Anhui said the company unwaveringly strives to implement its "In China, for China" development strategy.
Based in Hefei, capital of east China's Anhui Province, Volkswagen Anhui is Volkswagen Group's first joint venture in China that focuses on the research and development (R&D) and manufacturing of NEVs.
Covering an area of about 500,000 square meters, the Volkswagen Anhui MEB plant is about to complete construction after just over one year and the first pre-series car of Volkswagen Anhui is expected to roll off the production line shortly.
"The mass production of electric vehicles is scheduled for 2023," Gabardi told Xinhua in an interview, attributing the progress to the strong and consistent support from local partners.
Official data shows that China's NEV output and sales have ranked first globally for seven consecutive years since 2015.
"We are continuing to develop our R&D team, adjust our R&D strategy and innovate products exclusively for Chinese customers to suit the consumption preferences of the Chinese market," said Gabardi, adding that the local R&D at Volkswagen Anhui is the key to the Volkswagen Group's transformation and e-mobility strategy.
"Our local R&D mainly focuses on hardware and software development and testing for NEVs as well as the development of China-specific modules and platforms," Gabardi explained, adding that by 2023, the number of employees in Volkswagen Anhui is expected to surpass 3,500, of which 1,300 will be R&D engineers.
Over the years, a comprehensive local supply chain ecosystem has been built around Volkswagen Anhui.
Volkswagen Group has invested in a battery cell manufacturer and established a digital sales and services company in Hefei to promote the high-quality development of the province's NEV industry.
"Among Volkswagen Anhui's 260 production suppliers that are already on board, 16 are based in Anhui, while 37 suppliers have moved to Anhui with us and have made local investments," said Gabardi.
Inspired by Germany's vocational education system, the Dazhong College, co-built by Volkswagen Group China, Volkswagen Anhui, and Hefei University, has been launched, with the goal of cultivating more skilled talents suited to the needs of enterprises.
"Chinese and German companies share a common vision in many aspects. Volkswagen Anhui is an obvious example of such a constructive partnership," said Gabardi.
"We will share the pursuit of developing high-quality and advanced NEV products with Chinese partners, and combine each other's technological strengths to achieve 'In China, for China,'" he said.