This Volkswagen diesel-emissions scandal can make some folks do the darnedest things. Take Swatch, that fashion plate of decades past, for instance. Swatch Group AG CEO Nick Hayek and his board is looking at possibly taking a battery company that the watchmaker controls public and selling about 20 percent of the company. And the VW scandal, now more than a month old, is a primary reason, says Bloomberg News, citing comments from Hayek.

Swatch controls Belenos Clean Power, which can claim actor George Clooney as a board member. Swatch says Belenos makes batteries that are less expensive to produce than the lithium-ion batteries commonly used in electric vehicles because the Belenos batteries don't use rare raw materials. The batteries are apparently about 30-percent lighter than the Panasonic batteries Tesla Motors is currently using in the Model S and X before getting its Gigafactory online. Swatch also owns Renata, which will start making battery watches next year and may have batteries that can be tested for plug-in vehicles in 2017.

Why does Swatch want to get into the automotive battery business now? Well, there have been hints from VW execs beleaguered by the scandal and the potential long-term detrimental effects on diesel-vehicle demand that they may shift their focus towards plug-in hybrids and EVs. On a side note, ex-Swatch chairman Nicolas Hayek Sr. helped design the Smart ForTwo, so this wouldn't be the family's first venture into the automotive world. Getting some Belenos batteries into a Fortwo ED would be a nice way to come full circle, a few years from now.


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