VW appoints CEO in China EV platform push
Thomas Ulbrich appointed to head up the firm's innovation hub in eastern China
German OEM VW Group has re-structured the management of a new Chinese subsidiary which will produce an EV platform designed for the Chinese market.
Thomas Ulbrich has been appointed the CEO of Volkswagen China Technology Company (VCTC), which "squarely focuses on intelligent, fully connected electric vehicles", according to VW.
The German heavyweight launched VCTC in the city of Hefei in November with the goal of launching an electric platform for the entry-level segment in just 36 months. VW currently has plans for four c.$25,000 equivalent EVs for the Chinese market as part of its so-called 'in China, for China' strategy.
Until the new platform is launched, VW is relying on a partnership with China's Xpeng, whereby two mass-market Volkswagen-branded BEVs will developed on the latter's architecture.
And VW sees a key part of Ulbrich's role, beyond simply delivering the new platform, as helping to manage the firm's relationships with Chinese partners.
"Ulbrich has exceptional expertise in important future technologies and excellent connections in the company and the China region. One of his priorities will therefore be to further strengthen the collaboration with our joint venture companies FAW-Volkswagen, Saic Volkswagen and Volkswagen Anhui," says Ralf Brandstaetter, CEO of Volkswagen Group China.
VCTC will use efficient development processes and new technologies to reduce the current time to market for vehicles and components by 30pc, VW says.
"Further synergies will be leveraged by closely interweaving development work with the joint venture companies SAIC Volkswagen, FAW-Volkswagen and Volkswagen Anhui, as well as with Gotion (batteries) and Chinese automaker Xpeng," the firm continues.
VW has as yet shown limited appetite for trying to export any of the value created by its its Chinese partnerships beyond the East Asian nation, not looking to go as far as, for example, Stellantis' tie-up with China's Leapmotor. But its newest partner Xpeng is expanding into Europe, and it seems keen for more international collaboration, albeit VW seems more reluctant.
Volkswagen Group China has already established 33 plants across China, and is planning to make Hefei its "production, development, and innovation hub".