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VW CEO calls for more cooperation with China

Herbert Diess, CEO of the world's second largest carmaker Volkswagen AG, has called for more cooperation with China, saying the carmaker will not keep pace with innovations if it does not face the competition in the Chinese market.

"We need more cooperation and presence in China, not less," said Diess in his social media account on Monday.

"It would be very damaging if Germany or the EU wanted to decouple from China," he said.

Diess said Volkswagen is a global company and it will not stop advocating for globalization, a multi-lateral rules-based trading system and engagement.

China is Volkswagen's biggest market worldwide. In the first three quarters this year, its deliveries in the country reached 2.55 million units, over 35 percent of its total sales globally in the same period.

Total vehicle sales in China would reach 26.1 million this year, up 3 percent from 2020, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.

Electric cars and plug-in hybrids are highlights. Their combined sales are expected to hit 3.4 million units this year in China and 5 million in 2022, said the CAAM.

Diess said Volkswagen has significantly raised its NEV sales target in China in 2022. It has launched the electric ID.3, ID.4 and ID.6 models in the country and is planning to introduce more.

He said the carmaker is changing its marketing, 80 percent of which is now on social media, in an effort to attract the younger customers who are showing more interest in local Chinese startups.

Volkswagen is also partnering with Chinese companies including battery maker Gotion to sharpen its competitive edge.

Headquartered in Hebei, Anhui province, Gotion will help produce battery cells at Volkswagen's plant in Salzgitter, Germany, with production expected to start in 2025.

The battery maker will serve as a technology partner "for the cell factory layout, machinery and production processes," said Volkswagen in a statement earlier this year.

Gotion, with Volkswagen as its largest shareholder, will supply batteries for the carmaker's plants in China as well.

Volkswagen unveiled in July this year a campaign called New Auto that focuses on electrification, autonomous driving and software-driven mobility.

"We have to use the Chinese speed and local technology platforms to remain worldwide relevant in New Auto," said Diess.

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