An “Electric Charging Station Only” sign is seen at a parking space in San Francisco, California, U.S. (Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg)

VW Is Setting Up Electric Car Charging Stations in China

(Bloomberg) -- Volkswagen AG is setting up a network of fast-charging stations in China with local partners as part of its multibillion-dollar push to boost electric-vehicle sales in the world’s largest market, people familiar with the matter said.

Volkswagen and long-standing carmaker partner China FAW Group Co. will each own 30 percent of the venture operating charging facilities nationwide, said the people, who asked not to be named as the discussions are private. Two other Chinese companies will hold the rest, the people said.

Global manufacturers such as Volkswagen and Ford Motor Co. are shifting their focus to electric cars as waning sales of gas guzzlers led to the first full-year slump in China’s auto market in at least two decades. While electric vehicles make up just a few percent of total car sales, the growth rates are impressive, and China is targeting sales of 2 million new-energy vehicles in 2020 as part of a push to clean its air and reduce dependence on imported oil.

The charging venture is part of Volkswagen’s plan to invest 4 billion euros ($4.5 billion) together with partners on electrification and smart cars this year, the people said. The companies will jointly invest an initial 1 billion yuan ($147 million) in the venture and plan to increase their bets over the years, they said.

Talks for the venture are near completion and it is scheduled to be set up in the first half of this year, the people said. SAIC Motor Corp., another VW partner, is ready to get on board, with more Chinese auto and battery makers expected to join in future, the people said.

A Volkswagen spokesman in China declined to comment. FAW didn’t have an immediate comment, while calls to an SAIC representative went unanswered.

In November, Volkswagen said it was exploring the construction of a public fast-charging network in China that allows drivers to refill their vehicles in 15 minutes for a driving range of 400 kilometers (249 miles).

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.