And Volkswagen is doing its best to change that.
While the battle between two styles of economic theory persists between China and the western world, Europe has figured out that the Eastern giant’s more forceful manner of top-down rule has been highly effective in meeting one common goal that both regions share: getting more drivers behind the wheel of electric cars.
While China has been putting its money where its mouth is, incentivizing EV manufacturers to make more electric cars and giving customers similar financial impetus to buy them, Europe has lagged behind when it comes to getting customers to buy more EVs and helping its auto industry transition into the EV age. But it will lag no more, according to a report by The Detroit News. The report outlines how the European Union is preparing a $113 billion package that it plans to spend on building a supply chain for lithium-ion battery packs, which could help make Europe more competitive in the fight against the Chinese electric car industry.
That supply chain will go a long way in ensuring that the European auto industry, which employs 13.8 million people, can keep up with China’s efforts to not only build a better electric car but build a better EV industry. China is currently ahead in the race to electrify the car and the auto industry in general, and that doesn’t sit well with Europe’s leaders. French President Emmanuel Macron iterated that position in February when he said he "cannot be happy with a situation where 100% of the batteries of my electric vehicles are produced in Asia.”
Despite being behind, Europe has room to catch up. "A year or two ago, everyone was under the impression that it was already too late for Europe,” said James Frith, an energy storage analyst at BloombergNEF in London. "But they’ve made a commitment, and Europe is in a strong position now.”
With batteries becoming a hot commodity, carmakers with plans for electrification are rushing to secure battery supplies for their upcoming lineups, and Europe’s government-sponsored jump-start is an effort to ensure more of that contract money goes to EU members like France, Germany, and Poland. So how much money are we talking about? Well, consider the fact that Reuters has just reported on how Volkswagen recently promised it would buy $56.57 billion worth of battery cells from five different suppliers, only one (Sweden’s Northvolt) of which is based outside of Asia.
Both reports highlight how batteries will become the new hot commodity, not only between companies and industries but among entire geopolitical regions, as the century continues to mature.