“This is our first-ever pilot project in China” that seeks to link the automotive, electrical and digital worlds to the benefit of consumers, Volkswagen China Executive Vice President Weiming Soh said. The trial, dubbed Project Tiger, may be replicated in other cities although there is not any specific timetable, he said.
VW Group is doubling down on a market that is struggling to revive from a coronavirus-induced slump. Electric vehicle sales in Europe exceeded Chinese EV sales in the first half for the first time since 2015.
Hefei, in Anhui province, has also been positioning itself as the place for new-age automakers to be. Chinese EV manufacturer Nio got a $1 billion investment from the city in April, while VW is seeking a 50 percent stake in Anhui Jianghuai Automobile Group Holdings and an interest in battery maker Guoxuan High Tech. Nio also has a factory in Hefei, which it operates with Jianghuai.
VW selected Hefei due to its already close relationship with JAC and the city’s commitment to new driver technologies, Soh said.
“We are very close to the Hefei government. They have the desire to do this and we jumped in,” he said. “Imagine if you want to build cars, you’re going to need a lot of suppliers, and that creates employment and so on. If we pick it as our base, we’re starting to do that.”