VW to invest $2.7 billion for 2 more China assembly plants

Martin Winterkorn, left, visits the FAW-Volkswagen production plant in Chengdu, China, on Sunday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, right. The CEO is part of a business delegation accompanying Merkel on an official visit to the country. Photo credit: Reuters

SHANGHAI (Bloomberg) -- Volkswagen Group will invest 2 billion euros ($2.7 billion) to construct two more vehicle assembly plants in China, the carmaker said in a statement today.

The move is part of a wider plan by VW to invest 18.2 billion euros in China through 2018 to expand capacity and increase the number of models produced in the market.

The automaker, which counts China as its largest market, said it plans to build the plants in the coastal cities of Qingdao and Tianjin.

"China has become our largest and most important market," VW CEO Martin Winterkorn said in the statement. "To satisfy the demands of our customers in the country, we are engaging in a further substantial expansion of our capacities in China together with our Chinese partner FAW Volkswagen."

VW Group delivered about 1.51 million vehicles in China in the first five months of this year, an 18 percent increase over the corresponding period a year earlier, according to the company. Winterkorn said in April he expects VW's China deliveries to rise at least 10 percent from last year's record, pushing deliveries to more than 3.5 million vehicles.

The new plants fit into Volkswagen's plans to overtake Toyota Motor Corp. as the world's largest automaker by 2018. Foreign automakers are adding factories in China to cater to growing demand in the world's second-largest economy, where the number of licensed drivers is estimated to swell to 1 billion in the next 10 to 15 years.