Volkswagen’s China joint venture starts developing PHEVs amid growing demand

Volkswagen’s China joint venture starts developing PHEVs amid growing demand
Written by Techbot

New energy vehicles EV mobility Volkswagen VW SAIC-VW tiguan PHEV plug-in hybrid electrive vehicles EVs

A plug-in hybrid version of Volkswagen’s Tiguan sports utility vehicle, which the German automaker said has a driving range of 50 km (31 miles) under a fully electric mode. Credit: Volkswagen

A Chinese joint venture between Volkswagen Group and SAIC Group will start building its own plug-in hybrid electric vehicles in a move to follow the growing adoption of PHEVs in the world’s biggest car market, Chinese media outlet Caixin has reported.

Why it matters: The move marks Volkswagen’s efforts to become more localized and step up its introduction of new electric vehicle (EV) models in China, where it is losing ground to electric rivals such as BYD and Tesla. Its premium brand Audi is also looking to develop EVs with the purchase of partner SAIC’s electric vehicle platform.

  • The current offerings from global automakers’ JVs in China are not competitive on the EV and software side, resulting in continued market share loss and prices that remain under pressure amid overall lackluster demand, UBS analysts wrote in a June 16 note.

Details: According to the July 22 report by Caixin, SAIC-Volkswagen has yet to reveal detailed plans on any specifications or launch information for the new model.

  • And yet, the move is expected to “unleash the power” of the joint manufacturer, and employees were fed a free meal to celebrate the decision, the report said, citing people familiar with the matter. SAIC-Volkswagen did not respond to TechNode’s request for comment.

Context: SAIC-Volkswagen currently has two PHEV models on sale, namely the popular Tiguan sports utility vehicle and the mid-sized Passat sedan, with a starting price of RMB 261,050 and RMB 233,150 ($36,268 and $32,392), respectively, according to its official website.

  • Retail sales of the company declined 0.1% year-on-year to 532,509 units for the first six months of this year, while those of rivals such as BYD and Tesla grew 82.2% and 48.9% from a year earlier.
  • Sales for FAW-Volkswagen, another China joint venture formed by the German automaker, were down 2.8% to 838,723 units in the same period, figures from the China Passenger Car Association (CPCA) show. VW Group delivered 321,600 battery EVs (BEVs) globally over the period, according to its filings.
  • PHEVs have continued to gain momentum over the past few months in China, with year-to-date sales nearly doubling to around 995,000 units in China from a year ago, compared with a 19.8% annual growth rate of BEV sales, according to CPCA figures.
  • A PHEV normally carries a smaller battery pack than BEVs with similar specifications, which could mean a lower purchase price. It also reduces owners’ concerns about their EVs running out of power by using both a battery pack and a gas-powered engine.

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Jill Shen is Shanghai-based technology reporter. She covers Chinese mobility, autonomous vehicles, and electric cars. Connect with her via e-mail: or Twitter: @yushan_shen
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