After announcing the electric car cooperation between VW and Audi with the Chinese manufacturers Xpeng and SAIC, Group CEO Oliver Blume gave more details.
He spoke about the opportunities for the VW brand with the Xpeng cooperation and what Audi plans to do with the SAIC technology. VW’s own PPE and SPP platforms are not under threat.
Only China, for the moment
During a conference call with journalists and analysts, Blume clarified that the cooperation with Xpeng is only limited to China for the time being and could be expanded later. “In our framework agreement with Xpeng, there is the possibility also to take the step out of China. But first, we want to establish the business in China,” said Blume.
Blume also gave further details on the models: VW will develop two new electric models in the upper B segment with Xpeng by 2026. Among other things, the G9 platform from Xpeng will be used for this. He did not reveal more details yet, as not all key points have been defined: “We will determine the technical details in the next few weeks,” Blume is quoted as saying.
Last week, VW announced a technological framework agreement on long-term cooperation with Xpeng. The announcement at the time only mentioned two mid-range models in general terms, which Blume has now specified. VW will also take a 4,99% stake in Xpeng.
800-volt technology and 700 km range?
With the hint that VW will use the platform of the Xpeng G9, at least some critical data on the technology can be deduced: the G9 is not a B-segment vehicle but a large electric SUV developed for international markets from the beginning.
The vehicle is based on an 800-volt platform developed by Xpeng with silicon carbide semiconductors. However, the data of the drives (between 230 and 405 kW) and the charging power of up to 480 kW are probably only possible with the large battery of the G9.
What the platform offers in the B segment is not yet known. Xpeng has not yet launched a vehicle of this much smaller B-segment size on the platform. With a smaller battery in a lighter and smaller car, it’s not sure that a range of 700 km will be reached, as the G9 promises.
PPE and SSP remain
CEO Blume also commented on the cooperation between Audi and SAIC. Audi will use an electric platform from SAIC to expand its product range in the world’s most significant car market. The VW CEO did not specify which platform was involved. According to rumors, Audi wants to use the IM L7 platform of the SAIC joint venture IM Motors, but this has still not been confirmed.
Meanwhile, the boss shed more light on what will happen with VW’s future electric platforms, which have seen significant delays in their development course lately. The company’s own electric platforms are to remain unaffected by the collaborations.
“Audi will start producing PPE vehicles in the Chinese market in 2024. The SSP platform will be used for the first time at the end of 2026, after which the various stages of this platform will be rolled out by the end of the decade. The technology profiles have been defined; now it’s up to us to implement it and work out the details of the products,” says Blume.
What is interesting about this statement is that Blume again assumes that the SSP will be launched at the end of 2026. According to various reports, the platform was significantly delayed due to problems with its Cariad software daughter. Depending on the source, there was talk of delays into 2028 or even 2030. However, Blume did not say whether the SSP will be launched with all the announced features related to autonomous driving.
New China Strategy
The use of third-party platforms alongside the company’s developments fits the group’s new China strategy. “We are building our target picture for China in 2030, and the new collaborations are part of that strategy. We want to do more business in China for China. For this, we have been looking for partnerships to offer Chinese customers the best solutions,” Blume explained in the conference call.
“We do not want to and cannot do everything alone. Everything depends on the customer’s wishes in the different regions of the world,” Blume continued. “The partnership gives us a great opportunity to develop a product offering tailor-made for Chinese customers from China for China. We want to fill the white spots on our product map. We will select our best technologies and combine them with the right platforms.”
Blume also gave an example not directly related to the electric drives of the third-party platforms: “Xpeng is the world leader in voice recognition functions. We have defined profiles on how we can offer the right technology profiles for our future products.”