VW warns soaring EU energy costs render battery plants unviable

Ballooning energy prices making plants unfeasible, top exec says

Investment in German and EU industrial projects such as battery-cell factories will be unfeasible if the region’s policymakers fail to control ballooning energy prices in the long-term, the head of Volkswagen’s namesake brand said.

“Unless we manage to reduce energy prices in Germany and Europe quickly and reliably, investments in energy-intensive production or new battery-cell factories in Germany and the EU will be practically unviable,” VW brand chief executive Thomas Schaefer wrote Monday on LinkedIn. “The value creation in this area will take place elsewhere.”

An outline for industrial-policy co-operation hatched by the French and German economy ministers last week “falls short in crucial areas, and does not address the envisaged priorities”, Schaefer said.

Europe’s energy crisis is compounding pressure on how to respond to the US’s Inflation Reduction Act, President Joe Biden’s climate and tax law that aims to boost domestic production of electric cars and reduce reliance on China for battery components and materials. EU officials have said the subsidy programme violates World Trade Organisation rules and discriminates against non-US companies.


Schaefer said the EU’s programmes don’t focus enough on “the short-term ramp-up, scaling and industrialisation of production” , criticising what he called “outdated and bureaucratic state-aid rules”.

Volkswagen plans to have six battery factories in full operation across Europe by 2030 under its battery company PowerCo, which broke ground on its lead plant in Germany in July of this year and signed a €3 billion joint venture with Umicore in September for cathode material production. – Bloomberg