Several German automakers and auto suppliers unveiled major business deals with Chinese vehicle makers and information technology firms in Berlin on Thursday, during Premier Li Keqiang's official visit to Germany.
In the presence of Li and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the world's largest carmaker, Volkswagen Group, and its rival, Daimler AG, both signed agreements with their Chinese counterparts, with an eye on China's new energy vehicle (also known as NEV) market. China is the largest auto and NEV market in the world. Daimler AG and its Chinese partner BAIC Group signed a framework agreement on further strengthening their strategic collaboration through investment for the NEV sector in China.
Daimler intends to acquire a minority share in the Beijing Electric Vehicle Co, a subsidiary of the BAIC Group. Part of the investment will go to the upgrade of current production facilities at their joint venture Beijing Benz Automotive Co to prepare for the introduction of NEV production.
Hubertus Troska, a member of the management board at Daimler AG, with responsibility for China, said: "The framework agreement signed today marks a new chapter of our cooperation, in terms of new-energy vehicles. China today is already the world's largest market for NEVs, and Daimler is committed to contributing to the further development of electric mobility in this country."
Volkswagen and Chinese carmaker Anhui Jianghuai Automobile Co signed a deal to launch a new 50:50 joint venture to produce electric cars in China.
Matthias Muller, CEO of the Volkswagen Group, said: "The new partnership is a further milestone in our electric offensive in China.
"We want to play our part in shaping the mobility of the future: electric, fully networked, and in line with the needs of our customers."
The joint venture, initially for 25 years, will develop and sell electric vehicles. It includes the development and production of components for NEVs, the development of vehicle connectivity and automotive data services.
German automobile supplier and technology company Continental also signed a strategic cooperation agreement, this time with Baidu, one of the largest internet companies in China. The deal is aimed at establishing a comprehensive strategic cooperation in the areas of automated driving, connected vehicles and intelligent mobility services.
It also signed a framework agreement with NIO, a Chinese electric vehicle start-up. The two companies will work closely in the field of electric vehicles and other relevant fields, including intelligent transportation systems and automated driving.