German car giant Volkswagen is in talks with potential partners about plans to build an electric vehicle battery manufacturing plant in South Africa, BEST Battery Briefing can reveal.
VW has been in discussions with a consortium— which the car maker declined to give more details on— for the past six months about the possibility of teaming up for the project, the company confirmed to BBB.
VW South Africa’s chairman and MD, Thomas Schaefer (pictured), discussed the proposals for the plant— which could be built at Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape— at a meeting of the non-profit organisation Eastern Cape Exporters Club last month.
A VW spokesperson told BBB: “About six months ago, VW South Africa was approached by a consortium that wanted to set up battery manufacturing for domestic and automotive use in Port Elizabeth. For the past few months, VW and representatives of the consortium have been discussing and exchanging requirements but there is still no clear confirmation or forward plan.”
However, the spokesperson warned South Africa’s government “neither promotes/incentivises electric mobility nor imposes stringent rules on fleet CO2emissions”. “Therefore, business cases for such high investment operations are difficult from our perspective.”
Earlier this year, VW told BBB it would invest “just under €1 billion” (US$1.1bn) in a partnership to build a battery cell production facility in Germany. The company also invested $10m in US-based Forge Nano— for the start-up to continue investigating and developing “a material coating technology that could further improve the performance of battery materials”.