VOW.DE - Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft

XETRA - XETRA Delayed price. Currency in EUR
176.50
-2.50 (-1.40%)
At close: 5:35PM CET
Stock chart is not supported by your current browser
Previous close181.25
Open182.10
Bid176.70 x 22300
Ask176.90 x 61000
Day's range176.50 - 179.40
52-week range139.90 - 185.00
Volume63,033
Avg. volume68,765
Market cap88.384B
Beta (5Y monthly)1.61
PE ratio (TTM)6.62
EPS (TTM)26.68
Earnings date17 Mar 2020
Forward dividend & yield4.80 (2.68%)
Ex-dividend date15 May 2019
1y target est195.40
  • A Few Thousand Teslas Won't Fix China's Problems
    Bloomberg

    A Few Thousand Teslas Won't Fix China's Problems

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- Tianqi Lithium Corp. had everything going for it: generous subsidies, Beijing’s blessing on the electric-vehicle industry it supplies, and the hype of Tesla Inc. getting its sedans off the production line in China. The only thing interrupting this nice fairy tale is the reality of demand and making money.Over the past few years, China has supported its electric-car industry by doling out large subsidies; giving preferential treatment to domestic companies; and providing large outlays for charging infrastructure. The sector has surged as a result. The kickoff of Tesla’s Model 3 in Shanghai last month sparked a fresh rally among producers of lithium – a key ingredient in batteries – and other suppliers.All this is excitement is bubbling away despite the cratering of the lithium market. After peaking more than a year and a half ago, prices have slumped over 50% and inventories have piled up. The glut, a problem China knows all too well, has weighed on producers.This reality is starting to settle in for Tianqi Lithum. Earlier this week, the company canceled its bondholder meeting as worries about repaying investors 318 million yuan ($46 million) in principal and interest loomed. Its bonds fell to just over 64 cents on the dollar from around 75 cents days earlier.While China reported its first monthly slump in electric-vehicle purchases in July, Tianqi Lithium was struggling before then. The world’s second-largest producer reported its first quarterly loss in almost six years years in September, following two quarters of declining net income.Like many fad-commodity producers before it, Tianqi Lithium is seeing the painful consequences of China’s supply and demand mismatch. The adoption of electric cars and progress on battery technology have both been slower than anticipated. Expectations were so far off the mark that despite lithium prices falling, analysts adjusted higher their estimates for the average selling price of batteries last year.Tianqi Lithium booked a 63% increase in government subsidies in the nine months to September as non-operating income from a year earlier. The government's supportive rhetoric also led the company to pile on debt as it sought stakes in Chile’s Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile SA and an Australian lithium mine. The company eventually financed its way to commanding a 16% share of global lithium production; but now its balance sheet looks bloated and questions about the company’s ability to refinance its debt – and at what cost – are becoming more pressing.For all the hopes pegged to its expansion and profitability, Tianqi Lithium didn’t have enough cash to cover the 3.1 billion yuan of short-term debt it owes as of September. The company has already tapped various channels of funding, from medium-term notes to an equity raising. When Moody’s Investors Service downgraded the company last month, it cited Tianqi Lithium’s inability to raise enough capital through its rights offering, saying it would have trouble deleveraging.Expectations for the electric-car industry are starting to recalibrate. With targeted subsidies shifting from cars to batteries and infrastructure, the bargaining power has moved from manufacturers of one to the other. The likes of Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd., BMW AG and Volkswagen AG are locking in long-term contracts and partnerships with battery makers, but these car giants are no longer calling the shots.Battery makers nevertheless face their share of challenges: They haven’t quite figured out how to advance technology safely, while bringing down prices and preserving margins. Any reduction in subsidies will pass through to suppliers as well. It may be time for a more realistic reassessment.Tianqi Lithium may be able to keep rolling over its debt, but that doesn’t change the fact that we’re still years away from widespread adoption of electric cars. A few thousand Teslas on the streets of China isn’t going to change that. EV suppliers may be better served keeping an eye on their balance sheets than Elon Musk’s production line.To contact the author of this story: Anjani Trivedi at atrivedi39@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Rachel Rosenthal at rrosenthal21@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Anjani Trivedi is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering industrial companies in Asia. She previously worked for the Wall Street Journal. For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • VW Struggles With Sale of MAN Energy Solutions Unit
    Bloomberg

    VW Struggles With Sale of MAN Energy Solutions Unit

    (Bloomberg) -- Volkswagen AG, which has been exploring a sale of its MAN Energy Solutions division, is disappointed with the offers so far, according to people familiar with the matter.The German automaker has been holding bilateral talks with potential acquirers including Cummins Inc. since last year, said the people. Competitors including Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. have also previously shown interest, they said. VW may decide to retain the business unless better offers come in, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are private.VW decided about nine months ago to review strategic options including a sale of MAN Energy Solutions, which sells large engines used in ships and factories, as well as industrial transmissions maker Renk AG.VW declined to comment. A representative for Cummins didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment while Mitsubishi Heavy couldn’t immediately be reached for comment outside of regular business hours.Abandoning a sale of MAN Energy Solutions would mark a setback for the German industrial giant’s efforts to focus on its core passenger car operations. It sold a smaller-than-expected 10% stake in the Traton SE heavy-truck division in an initial public offering last year after months of delays. A previous attempt to divest the Ducati motorbike division was also shot down by key stakeholders.A deal for Renk could still materialize as the maker of large gearboxes for tanks and other machinery has drawn interest from buyout firms EQT AB and Triton as well as German defence company Rheinmetall AG, according to people familiar with the matter. A winning bidder is expected to be selected in the next few weeks, the people said. A representative for EQT declined to comment. Representatives for Triton and Rheinmetall didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.MAN Energy Solutions has about 14,000 employees worldwide and recently changed its name from MAN Diesel & Turbo to highlight its sustainability offerings, which was seen as an effort to broaden the appeal of the unit.To contact the reporters on this story: Aaron Kirchfeld in London at akirchfeld@bloomberg.net;Christoph Rauwald in Frankfurt at crauwald@bloomberg.net;Eyk Henning in Frankfurt at ehenning1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at apalazzo@bloomberg.net, Aaron Kirchfeld, Matthew MonksFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Old Electric Car Batteries May Help Cut Costs of Storing Power
    Bloomberg

    Old Electric Car Batteries May Help Cut Costs of Storing Power

    (Bloomberg) -- As major players jostle for market share in large-scale power storage, American Electric Power and Nissan Motor Co. are testing new technology that re-uses old electric vehicle batteries to slash costs.The pilot study in Ohio will road test technology that could lower system costs by about a half and extend the life of lithium-ion batteries by about a third, according to its Australian developer.Costs of energy storage systems are falling globally on technology improvements, larger manufacturing volumes, increased competition between suppliers and as the sector adds more expertise, BloombergNEF said in an October report. That’s driving an expansion in investment in projects to store power, with as much as $5 billion worth of deals possible this year for systems paired with renewable energy, according to the forecaster.American Electric’s Ohio study is using expired Nissan Leaf car batteries and is intended to test the innovations at scale after laboratory work in Australia and Japan.Results so far appear promising, Ram Sastry, American Electric’s vice president, innovation and technology, said by phone. “It’s in a facility that we own, but connected to the real grid.” he said.The technology is developed by Melbourne-based Relectrify and uses old, or second-life, vehicle batteries and reduces the number of components needed, the company said Friday in a statement. That can reduce costs for key parts of typical industrial or grid storage systems to about $150 per kilowatt hour, it said.That compares with a current average price for similar technology using new batteries of $289 a kilowatt hour, according to the BloombergNEF 2019 Energy Storage System Costs Survey.Companies like BMW AG and Toyota Motor Corp. are already putting re-used cells to work in applications including renewable energy storage, electric vehicle charging, and to power street lights and homes. About three-quarters of vehicle batteries are eventually likely to be reused, according to London-based researcher Circular Energy Storage.Cheaper energy storage with batteries could provide an alternative to adding more capacity at electricity substations, or building more transformers. It could also be harnessed to provide backup power and bolster reliability for consumers, according to American Electric’s Sastry.“There are many use cases that we have for batteries that are predicated on the cost,” he said. “If the battery goes lower in cost, it can compete with the wires.”Yet even as the price of lithium-ion battery cells has fallen, it’s been difficult to reduce costs of components such inverters. “The inverter is the Achilles heel of energy storage,” said Bradley Smith, president of Covington, Louisiana-based Beauvoir Consulting Services and previously an executive developing second-life battery products at Nissan.Relectrify’s system reduces the need for separate electronics for both the inverter and battery management system, lowering costs, Smith said.The technology can also extend the lifespan of either reused or new batteries by offering more precise management of individual cells, according to Valentin Muenzel, CEO of Relectrify, a 14-person firm launched in 2015 that’s collaborated with companies including Volkswagen AG and International Business Machines Corp.Some potential end users remain wary of re-using lithium-ion batteries over concerns about their longevity and costs of re-purposing cells, according to BNEF’s head of clean power Logan Goldie-Scot.“Many customers are not yet comfortable with second-life batteries even at a steep discount,” he said. Tesla Inc. has in the past suggested it will favor recycling spent packs from vehicles to recover raw materials, rather than seek to re-use the cells first.Relectrify, which is holding talks with battery manufacturers and distributors, sees potential to eventually help improve performance of batteries for the auto sector, in addition to energy storage.“We see stationary storage as the low hanging fruit,” Muenzel said. “We’re already getting demand for use in some mobility applications and we expect that is an area that will continue to grow with time.”To contact the reporter on this story: David Stringer in Melbourne at dstringer3@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Alexander Kwiatkowski at akwiatkowsk2@bloomberg.netFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • What to Watch: Markets dive on virus fears, Black Friday boost for Asos, and VW fine
    Yahoo Finance UK

    What to Watch: Markets dive on virus fears, Black Friday boost for Asos, and VW fine

    A daily overview of the top business, market, and economic stories to watch in the UK, Europe, and abroad.

  • Volkswagen faces £114m fine as Tesla overtakes German car giant
    Yahoo Finance UK

    Volkswagen faces £114m fine as Tesla overtakes German car giant

    The fallout continues from the diesel emissions scandal for the German car giant, which has also been leapfrogged by Tesla as the world's second most valuable carmaker.

  • Carmakers Must Do Better Just to Keep Up in China
    Bloomberg

    Carmakers Must Do Better Just to Keep Up in China

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- The world’s largest car market is cratering and there are few signs of a recovery. It was never supposed to get this bad —  and even if it got close, a helping hand from Beijing would steer things out of any prolonged trouble. Or so people thought...  Instead, passenger car sales in China fell 9.5% last year, more steeply than the 4.3% in 2018, which was the first annual sales decline in over a decade. The drop has dragged down the global automobile industry and its deep supply chain. That leaves automakers in limbo. After years of relying on the Chinese market for its double-digit volume growth, they don't seem too sure about whom to build cars for, or what kind. Beijing’s lackluster stimulus last year included a grab-bag of measures: removal of car-purchase limits, support for buying electric cars and incentives to build infrastructure like rural gas stations. They haven't done much to revive demand. Consumers were waiting for more, which simply led to a steeper slide in sales. With no new sweeteners and the distortions of past stimuli fading, a real picture of demand is emerging. It’s nuanced. There are fewer first-time buyers, and more who are purchasing replacement vehicles. They’re increasingly looking to upgrade, and also buying more used cars. In a word, consumers are being more discriminating.Luxury carmakers account for around 15% of the market and are doing better than the rest. Porsche Automobil Holding SE, for instance, delivered 86,752 vehicles to customers in China last year, up 8% from 2018. In December, BMW Brilliance Automotive Ltd.’s average daily vehicles sales rose 21% on the year, up from 5% in November. Down the food chain, buyers of family-friendly cars are upgrading. Demand for sports utility vehicles and sedans remains depressed but is shifting toward higher-end, in-between cars, according to analysts at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Buyers of these so-called multi-purpose vehicles, or MPVs, have long bought the same few basic models, priced between 40,000 yuan ($5,800) to less than 100,000 yuan. As the market was flooded with SUVs, aspirational buyers stayed away. Now, manufacturers are improving design and comfort, and raising prices.A slew of MPV models will be released this year. Going by low discounts compared to the rest of the market, demand remains sturdy. Goldman’s analysts estimate that in every 1% of demand that moves to the higher-end MPVs lies an annual revenue opportunity of almost 50 billion yuan ($7.25 billion). Here’s the hard reality: The double-digit growth days of selling nearly 25 million cars a year are vanishing in the rearview mirror. So are outsize profits from China. Much like the U.S. market, the type of demand will evolve and how people get around will change. Younger Chinese are more inclined to use ride-hailing services. The older people get, the less likely they’ll obtain driving licenses. China’s population is aging rapidly. This is a structural slowdown.In theory, China has plenty of room to sell more cars. Penetration rates are low and so is the national percentage of licensed drivers. The carmakers are banking on semi-urban China, ostensibly the most upwardly mobile consumers. But sales are unlikely to top 20-some million a year, even with the push toward electric vehicles (only 5% of cars sold now) and regulations that will eventually force buyers to go green. For now, higher technology only raises the cost of car ownership out of reach.The market is oversupplied, no doubt. The good news is that inventories are coming down as automakers try to stay in the black. Toyota Motor Corp. has increased the types of models it sells in China and gained market share. As weaker players drop out and the industry consolidates, the likes of Honda Motor Co. and Volkswagen AG are taking a bigger piece. Failure to rigorously manage output will mean a pile of clunkers. Changan Ford Automobile Co. is sitting on some of the highest levels of inventory, as is SAIC General Motors Corp.’s Baojun. GM continues to lose market share. Ford Motor Co. said last week that its sales in China dropped 26% in 2019. European carmakers have also struggled.  Making money by churning the assembly lines won’t cut it anymore. The China Road to success is a lot narrower. Only the companies that drive it smarter will survive.  To contact the author of this story: Anjani Trivedi at atrivedi39@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Patrick McDowell at pmcdowell10@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Anjani Trivedi is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering industrial companies in Asia. She previously worked for the Wall Street Journal. For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Canadian judge approves C$196.5 mln Volkswagen fine for diesel emissions
    Reuters

    Canadian judge approves C$196.5 mln Volkswagen fine for diesel emissions

    Volkswagen was charged in December with importing nearly 128,000 vehicles into Canada violating emissions standards. VW pleaded guilty after being charged with 60 counts of breaching the Canadian Environmental Protection Act and providing misleading information. The fine was by far the largest environmental penalty in Canadian history, prosecutors said.

  • Canadian judge approves C$196.5 million Volkswagen fine for diesel emissions
    Reuters

    Canadian judge approves C$196.5 million Volkswagen fine for diesel emissions

    Volkswagen was charged in December with importing nearly 128,000 vehicles into Canada violating emissions standards. VW pleaded guilty after being charged with 60 counts of breaching the Canadian Environmental Protection Act and providing misleading information.

  • Reuters - UK Focus

    DAVOS-Trump threatens big tariffs on car imports from EU

    U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday threatened to impose high tariffs on imports of cars from the European Union if the bloc doesn't agree to a trade deal. Trump has previously made threats to place duties on European automobile imports, with the intent of receiving better terms in the U.S.-Europe trade relationship. Trump has delayed imposing the tariffs a number of times.

  • Tesla Surges Past $100 Billion Market Value, Eclipsing VW
    Bloomberg

    Tesla Surges Past $100 Billion Market Value, Eclipsing VW

    (Bloomberg) -- Tesla Inc.’s market value has climbed above Volkswagen AG’s for the first time to more than $100 billion, a threshold that will trigger a huge payout for Elon Musk if he can sustain the feat for months.The electric-car maker’s shares soared as much as 8.6% on Wednesday to a new intraday high of $594.50. At that price, Tesla’s market capitalization was roughly $107.2 billion, exceeding Volkswagen’s $99.4 billion and trailing only Toyota Motor Corp.While Musk’s skeptics are dubious that Tesla should be worth more than a carmaker that sold almost 30 times as many vehicles last year, Volkswagen’s own Herbert Diess isn’t so dismissive. He’s been arguably the most vocal CEO among traditional carmakers to praise Tesla and point to its role in a radical shakeup of the more than century-old auto industry.After saying three months ago that Tesla was no niche manufacturer anymore, Diess told top Volkswagen executives at an internal meeting in Germany last week that connected vehicles will almost double the time consumers spend online, and that cars will “become the most important mobile device.”“If we see that, then we also understand why Tesla is so valuable from the view of analysts,” he said.Diess, 61, is rolling out the industry’s largest electric-car fleet and aims to boost the company’s value to a level rivaling Toyota, whose $232 billion market cap is still more than Tesla and VW’s combined.“Tesla has high innovative strength regarding battery-electric vehicles as well as connectivity, which can partly explain the high market capitalization,” Stefan Bratzel, a researcher at the Center of Automotive Management near Cologne, Germany, said in a report Wednesday. The relatively low valuation of traditional automakers is linked to uncertainty over whether they can navigate the looming industry shift, he said.The jump above $100 billion is about more than just bragging rights for Musk, Tesla’s billionaire chief executive officer. He’s eligible to receive the first tranche of an all-or-nothing pay award if the company’s market value stays above that threshold for a sustained period. On paper, the first chunk of the award would net him about $346 million.Tesla shares have more than doubled since the company reported a surprise third-quarter profit and told investors it was ahead of schedule bringing out its next product, the Model Y crossover, and opening its factory near Shanghai.The stock has room to run as Tesla grows in China, Wedbush analyst Dan Ives wrote in a report Wednesday. He boosted his target price to $550 from $370 while maintaining the equivalent of a hold rating.What Bloomberg Intelligence Says:“Tesla’s tepid 0.3% gain in 2019 domestic unit sales suggests a tapped-out U.S. Sales in China skew the U.S. demand picture, which should become clearer by year-end with the ramp-up in Shanghai output.”\- Kevin Tynan, senior autos analystClick here to read the researchGary Black, who was chief executive of Aegon Asset Management from mid 2016 through September and now holds Tesla as a private investor, said he expects Tesla to earn more than VW by 2025 and believes consensus estimates for vehicle deliveries this year are too low. He expects Musk to forecast at least 550,000 units for 2020 during next week’s earnings webcast and to tout the launch of the Model Y.While at least eight analysts have boosted their price targets by more than $100 since the year began, consensus is still well below where Tesla’s shares are trading. The average target is $363.92 with just 10 analysts rating the stock a buy, compared with 10 holds and 16 sells.(Updates with VW’s EV plans in sixth paragraph.)\--With assistance from Cécile Daurat, Tom Randall and Anders Melin.To contact the reporters on this story: Dana Hull in San Francisco at dhull12@bloomberg.net;Christoph Rauwald in Frankfurt at crauwald@bloomberg.net;Gregory Calderone in New York at gcalderone7@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Craig Trudell at ctrudell1@bloomberg.net, ;Anthony Palazzo at apalazzo@bloomberg.net, Cécile DauratFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Reuters - UK Focus

    LIVE MARKETS-Closing snapshot: Change of heart

    * European shares little changed * DAX flat after hitting new record peak * Worries over spreading Coronavirus ease * Italian banks fall on fresh political uncertainty * S&P 500, Nasdaq aim for record on IBM earnings Welcome to the home for real-time coverage of European equity markets brought to you by Reuters stocks reporters and anchored today by Danilo Masoni.

  • Reuters - UK Focus

    LIVE MARKETS-Autos decoupling from DAX: a trade war put option?

    * European shares little changed * DAX flat after hitting new record peak * Worries over spreading Coronavirus ease * Italian banks fall on fresh political uncertainty * S&P 500, Nasdaq aim for record on IBM earnings Welcome to the home for real-time coverage of European equity markets brought to you by Reuters stocks reporters and anchored today by Danilo Masoni. Barclays anticipates better days ahead for earnings in 2020 rather than the actual Q4 numbers and overall, it says you shouldn't expect much of a boost in share prices from the results as the U-shaped recovery has been largely priced in.

  • Reuters - UK Focus

    LIVE MARKETS-Ponzi Market?

    * European shares little changed * DAX flat after hitting new record peak * Worries over spreading Coronavirus ease * Italian banks fall on fresh political uncertainty * S&P 500, Nasdaq aim for record on IBM earnings Welcome to the home for real-time coverage of European equity markets brought to you by Reuters stocks reporters and anchored today by Danilo Masoni. Reach him on Messenger to share your thoughts on market moves: danilo.masoni.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net PONZI MARKET? In a note titled, "Global Central Banks Fuelling a Ponzi Market a Ponzi Market", Guggenheim Investments CIO Scott Minerd says the only reason investors keep adding to risk is the fear that prices will be higher tomorrow.

  • Reuters - UK Focus

    LIVE MARKETS-Trade truce: much ado about nothing

    * European shares little changed after higher open higher * DAX flat after hitting new record peak * Worries over spreading Coronavirus ease * Italian banks fall on fresh political uncertainty * S&P 500, Nasdaq aim for record on IBM earnings Welcome to the home for real-time coverage of European equity markets brought to you by Reuters stocks reporters and anchored today by Danilo Masoni. Reach him on Messenger to share your thoughts on market moves: danilo.masoni.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net TRADE TRUCE: MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING (1429 GMT) How would you react if you were told that the trade truce between U.S. and China would at best boost global trade for this year by just $20 billion (that's much lesser than how much Apple grew its revenue last year)?

  • Reuters - UK Focus

    LIVE MARKETS-Italy risks are back but don't worry too much

    * European shares open higher; DAX hits new record peak * Worries over spreading Coronavirus ease * Italian banks fall on fresh political uncertainty * S&P 500, Nasdaq futures also touch new record high * Asian shares up, investors welcome China virus response Welcome to the home for real-time coverage of European equity markets brought to you by Reuters stocks reporters and anchored today by Danilo Masoni. Risks of an early election handing power to right-wing leader Matteo Salvini look small and some investors see the drop in Italian assets as a possible buying opportunity.

  • Reuters - UK Focus

    LIVE MARKETS-Tesla vrooms past VW to become no. 2

    * European shares open higher; DAX hits new record peak * Worries over spreading Coronavirus ease * Asian shares up, investors welcome China virus response Welcome to the home for real-time coverage of European equity markets brought to you by Reuters stocks reporters and anchored today by Danilo Masoni. 2 (1038 GMT) One hundred billion dollars (purposely spelled out) -- that's what Tesla is expected to be worth when U.S. markets open later today, dethroning car behemoth Volkswagen to become the world's second-biggest automaker by market cap. "The rise in the value of Tesla tells us little about the health of the car market (modest in the U.S., weaker in Germany and China), but a lot about investor behaviour and the state of banking," says Mike O'Sullivan, author and ex-CIO at Credit Suisse IWM.

  • Reuters - UK Focus

    LIVE MARKETS-Opening snapshot: Holding the line

    * Fevertree falls after Xmas trading update Welcome to the home for real-time coverage of European equity markets brought to you by Reuters stocks reporters and anchored today by Julien Ponthus. Very much like their Asian peers, European stocks are holding close to the highs reached on Friday rather than moving further while Wall Street is off celebrating MLK day. There are a few spectacular moves in the UK: Fevertree Drinks is down over 20%, after the premium tonic water maker warned about subdued Christmas trading.

  • Inside Tesla’s Attack on Germany’s Auto Establishment
    Bloomberg

    Inside Tesla’s Attack on Germany’s Auto Establishment

    (Bloomberg) -- German rangers stand guard to shoo away visitors from a nondescript stretch of forest near Berlin, where a sign nearby warns of “Lebensgefahr” (mortal danger).The precautions are part of the frantic activity underway to set up Tesla Inc.’s latest assembly plant, Elon Musk’s most daring attack on the German auto establishment. Workers wielding metal detectors have started combing through an area covering some 200 football fields to search for errant ammunition lurking beneath the sandy surface of tiny Gruenheide.It’s the first stage to prepare a site that could churn out as many as 500,000 cars a year, employ 12,000 people and pose a serious challenge to Volkswagen AG, Daimler AG and BMW AG. Once deemed free of World War II explosives, harvesters and trucks will roll in to clear thousands of trees in the first stage of development. The work needs to be done by the end of February to meet Tesla’s aggressive timetable. The project represents a second chance for the quiet town, nestled between two lakes on the edge of a nature reserve southeast of Berlin.Gruenheide lost out on a similar factory two decades ago, when BMW opted for Leipzig. That missed opportunity helped town officials to move quickly when Tesla expressed interest in building its first European factory in Germany, with a plot set aside for industrial use and offering easy access to the Autobahn and rail lines.Read More: Elon Musk’s German Factory Started With Love Letter From Berlin“The investment is a unique opportunity,” Mayor Arne Christiani said in his office, where a map of the Tesla project hangs on the wall. “It gives young people with a good education or a university degree the possibility to stay in our region—an option that didn’t exist in past years.”If it clears Germany’s red tape, the plant will make batteries, powertrains and vehicles, including the Model Y crossover, the Model 3 sedan and any future cars, according to company filings. The factory hall will include a pressing plant, paint shop and seat manufacturing in a building that will be 744 meters (2,440 feet) long—nearly triple the length of the Titanic. There’s space for four such facilities.Musk is taking his fight for the future of transport into the heartland of the combustion engine, where the established players long laughed off Tesla as an upstart on feeble financial footing that couldn’t compete with their rich engineering heritage. He casually dropped the news at an awards ceremony in Berlin in November, leaving the top brass of Germany’s car industry shell-shocked.“Elon Musk is going where his strongest competitors are, right into the heart of the global auto industry,” said Juergen Pieper, a Frankfurt-based analyst with Bankhaus Metzler. “No other foreign carmaker has done that in decades given Germany’s high wages, powerful unions and high taxes.”Building a factory in Europe’s largest car market is a major test of Musk’s global ambitions. Demand in the region is flat, and buyers are more loyal to local brands. Meanwhile, labor costs in Germany’s auto sector are 50% higher than in the U.S. and five times what they are in Poland, just an hour’s drive away from Gruenheide.Gruenheide TimelineEnd February: Finish tree logging before migrant birds nest March 5: Deadline for comments from nearby residents March 18: Public meeting to discuss the project Mid-2020: Construction expected to begin July 2021: Targeted start of productionOn the positive side, electric cars require less labor to build, and Germany has a deep reserve of auto experts. The location also offers the soft-power advantage of proximity to the country’s leaders.Under pressure for being slow to pick up on the electric-car shift, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government extended a welcoming hand to Musk. Economy Minister Peter Altmaier offered to try to ease regulatory hurdles that may snag construction. “There’s a lot at stake” in Tesla’s plan, he said soon after the project was announced.Musk’s incursion comes at a strategically opportune time. Riding a wave of optimism after successfully starting deliveries of its China-built Model 3 sedans a year after breaking ground on a factory there, Tesla’s stock has doubled in the past three months.Meanwhile, German peers are struggling with the costly shift away from combustion engines. Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler announced thousands of job cuts last year, when German car production fell to its lowest level in almost a quarter of a century. For Gruenheide, the planned investment has suddenly transformed the town of 8,700 people into a sought-after location. Local officials receive development proposals on a daily basis: anything from 22-story apartment towers to U.S.-style shopping malls, said Christiani, who hopes the plant will help unlock financing for public transport, schools and medical facilities.In the town hall, five thick binders are available for locals to peruse the project’s details, including 463 trucks expected to roll into the plant each day, a rail spur for train deliveries and an on-site fire brigade.Tesla still has to jump through a number of hoops. Residents have the chance to raise objections, and some have bemoaned that they’ve seen little from the company since its blockbuster announcement. Meanwhile, the local water utility warned it won’t be able to supply the site in time and raised concerns over its location in a zone meant to help protect drinking water supplies.And then the company has to carry out initiatives to protect wildlife—including scaring off any wolves in the area, relocating hibernating bats and removing lizards and snakes until construction is finished. The U.S. carmaker also has to replace felled trees.The mayor expects these hurdles to be cleared so that the first made-in-Gruenheide Teslas can roll out in July 2021.“The forest is classified as a harvest-ready, inferior pine forest,” Christiani said. “It was never supposed to be a rain forest.”—With assistance from Hayley Warren  (Adds criticism from water utility in 17th paragraph.)To contact the author of this story: Stefan Nicola in Berlin at snicola2@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Chris Reiter at creiter2@bloomberg.net, Craig TrudellChad ThomasFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Exclusive: Volkswagen to buy 20% of Chinese battery maker Guoxuan amid electric push - sources
    Reuters

    Exclusive: Volkswagen to buy 20% of Chinese battery maker Guoxuan amid electric push - sources

    HONG KONG/BEIJING (Reuters) - Volkswagen AG is set to take a 20% stake in Chinese electric vehicle battery maker Guoxuan High-tech Co Ltd, two sources told Reuters, as the German firm accelerates its electric push into the world's largest auto market. The deal would mark Volkswagen's first direct ownership in a Chinese battery maker and comes as the Wolfsburg-based automaker strives to meet a goal of selling 1.5 million new energy vehicles (NEVs) a year in China by 2025, including plug-in hybrid cars. The top foreign automaker in China plans to acquire the stake in Shenzhen-listed Guoxuan via a discounted private share placement in the coming weeks, the two sources with knowledge of the matter said.

  • Polish watchdog fines Volkswagen over 'dieselgate' scandal
    Reuters

    Polish watchdog fines Volkswagen over 'dieselgate' scandal

    Poland's consumer watchdog UOKiK said on Wednesday it was fining Volkswagen more than 120 million zlotys ($31.6 million) for misleading customers about the emissions of its vehicles. The fine, the biggest ever given by the regulator for violation of consumer rights, is the latest chapter in a global emissions cheating scandal that has cost Volkswagen about 30 billion euros in fines, vehicle refits and legal costs, and also triggered a global backlash against diesel vehicles. "False information in advertising materials caused misinformation - they referred to Volkswagen's pro-ecological attitude, when in fact the cars were not environmentally friendly," UOKiK president Marek Niechcial said in a statement.

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