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Last week, Volkswagen and Chinese automaker BYD signed a memorandum of understanding to work together "in the area of electric mobility" and vehicles that use li-ion batteries. BYD Chairman Wang Chuanfu (yes, the guy who likes to drink battery fluid) and VW's Martin Winterkorn signed the MOU in Wolfsburg, Germany. Ulrich Hackenberg, Member of the Board for Technical Development at Volkswagen, said in a statement (available after the jump) that, "Hybrids and electric vehicles will play an increasingly important role [for VW], of course. Particularly for the Chinese market, potential partners such as BYD could support us in quickly expanding our activities."

Perhaps VW was kicked into action by another German automaker taking a look at another EV automaker?


[Source: VW]

PRESS RELEASE:

Volkswagen and BYD sign memorandum of understanding

Partnership in the area of electric mobility to be explored

Wolfsburg, 25 May 2009 - During an informational visit by the Chinese carmaker BYD "Build Your Dreams" – led by the Chairman of the Board of Management, Wang Chuanfu – a memorandum of understanding was signed last week by Mr Wang and Dr Winterkorn.

Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, Member of the Board for Technical Development at Volkswagen, insisted on personally providing the delegation of Chinese top managers with information. The visit, which took place first at the Elektrotraktion Technology Centre in Isenbüttel and then at the test tracks in Wolfsburg, featured technical discussions and test drives with a variety of vehicles such as the Golf twinDrive and the prototype for an electric vehicle. "Volkswagen will consistently expand its successful 'BlueMotionTechnologies'. Hybrids and electric vehicles will play an increasingly important role, of course. Particularly for the Chinese market, potential partners such as BYD could support us in quickly expanding our activities," emphasised Dr Hackenberg.

Afterwards, the Chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen AG, Dr Martin Winterkorn, and the Chairman of the Board of Management of BYD, Wang Chuanfu, signed a memorandum of understanding. The objective of signing a memorandum of understanding between Volkswagen and BYD is to explore the options for partnership in the area of hybrids and electric vehicles powered by lithium batteries.


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  • 7 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      I'm always wondering if there is real industrial viability into li-Ion technology for hybrides.
      I mean we all know car makers work with on-going cost reduction plans and li-ion battery is far more expensive and far more difficult to recycle that existing technologies where raw material is comparatively cheap and 'green' as recycling structures are effective.
      Wouldn't it be more efficient to look for improving lead-acid batteries (start/stop, regen, etc) which cost looks to me more in line with what customers are willing to pay in the end, even if fuel consumption is a bit higher than with li-ion battery. If car needs 3 liters instead of 2, who really cares when quantity is low?
        • 6 Years Ago
        By their very nature, lead acid is limited in it's energy density. While some improvement is possible, it simply cannot rival the energy density of Lithium, because lithium is more reactive and a lot lighter than lead.

        Low energy density means heavy packs with limited range.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I agree with you. For sure power density and weight are much more favorable to other chemistries than lead acid. Still, are customers (who don't know much/anything about technology) really willing to pay more for their car because li-ion will be marketed as a much more modern alternative than 'historical' lead while VRLA lead-acid serving start-stop systems with regen help already reducing consumption/emissions? With on-going pressure from automakers on costs to their suppliers, is that realistic to go for a much more expensive technology (to date) with no recycling channels in place? Or is that more of a marketing thing to serve the green image of automakers who work in parrallel on cheaper alternative even though less fancy...?? I'm just wondering....
      harlanx6
      • 6 Years Ago
      As I have repeatedly said before, any car company that doesn't have a crash EV development program will be left in the same boat as Chrysler, a day late and a dollar short. Every battery-capacitor breakthrough will result in another 10% of the market going EV. VW is obviously still talking out of both sides of their mouth. No way are they unintuitive enough not to realize the importance of EV development.
        • 6 Years Ago
        @harlanx6
        It's kind of funny when one of the companies doing the most trash talking on EVs ends up buying into the tech.

        With VW giving in, the only major automaker without an apparent plug-in program is Honda, though they have said they will consider it.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I wonder how much of the trash talking is in fact a way to keep the competition in the dark about their real plans. Steve Jobs does this all the time ("We'll never make a phone"?). VW are pretty good at extracting every last bit of efficiency from any technology.

      Great news!
      • 6 Years Ago
      This is only good news. VW is known for having great small cars and China is known for producing quality electronics at bargain prices. I can't wait to see what comes down the pipe from this deal.