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Volkswagen charges ahead with EU battery alliance

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German car giant Volkswagen said Thursday it would work with Swedish cell startup Northvolt and other firms to develop batteries for electric cars in the European Union.

[FRANKFURT] German car giant Volkswagen said Thursday it would work with Swedish cell startup Northvolt and other firms to develop batteries for electric cars in the European Union.

The Wolfsburg-based manufacturer said in a statement its "European Battery Union" (EBU) "will concentrate on the entire value chain for batteries - from raw materials, via cell technology, all the way to recycling."

While VW said none of the other "partners from research and industry from seven EU member states" could yet be named publicly, a spokeswoman confirmed that no other carmakers were involved.

The statement confirmed that the group would apply for funding from the German economy ministry to cover the costs of bigger investments in research and development.

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Berlin and other EU capitals including Paris fear foreign competitors, especially from Asia, could secure an unbeatable lead in the vital technology for future cars, leaving Germany's powerful auto industry high and dry.

In response, economy minister Peter Altmaier promised one billion euros (S$1.53 billion) of support to consortiums looking to build batteries in Germany and the EU, while France is offering 700 million.

"If we want to keep good industrial jobs and create new ones, we must be leaders in battery cell manufacturing," Mr Altmaier said Monday.

The ministry says more than 30 companies have expressed interest in the pot of cash.

Business daily Handelsblatt reported chemical behemoth BASF, carmakers BMW and Peugeot, and battery firm Varta are among them.

VW said its EBU would "begin joint research activities at the beginning of 2020".

AFP