Braunschweig (dpa) - The VW group has entered the production of battery systems for its new electric car series. In Braunschweig, the company opened the first of two production lines.

The battery components are used in models that are based on the Modular Electrical Modular System (MEB) - including the recently launched ID.3 from the Zwickau plant, which establishes a family of pure e-vehicles.

More than 300 million euros flowed into the new Brunswick building. Employees were qualified internally for the additional 300 jobs that were located there.

Volkswagen wants to produce up to 500,000 battery systems per year for various brands after the complete startup of the systems. Until now, mainly chassis, steering systems and axles were produced in Braunschweig.

The location has been developing and manufacturing systems for batteries since 2013, but now the conversion and extension to the MEB. The development of the battery systems as a whole as well as the associated software and hardware also takes place there.

Chassis boss Otto Joos said the work was "an important part of our e-offensive". But the investment decisions were not easy. "We fought for a long time," he said, weighing up the intercompany and external suppliers. VW components boss Thomas Schmall spoke of a "big step" for the location: "300 million - that's already a pound."

Group CEO Herbert Diess is aiming for a system change to e-mobility. As part of its electrical strategy, the world's largest automaker will build its own battery cells in Salzgitter from 2020, with its Swedish partner Northvolt. A pilot plant is already in operation there.

The cell modules, which are placed in Braunschweig together with the control unit in the battery case and bolted, are still from the South Korean supplier LG. In the future, they could also come from Salzgitter. The Kassel plant is responsible for large parts of the electric drives.

According to the company, the tightly timed battery system production in Braunschweig is 95 percent automated. In addition to numerous robots, there are also "manual workplaces". The training of all employees should be completed by the end of 2020. "People who have been making drive parts for many years are now building batteries," Joos said. The management had demanded a lot, but also supported the workforce in the change. There is "a piece of future security," said Joos to change from internal combustion engine to electric mobility.

The Braunschweig VW works council chief Uwe Fritsch said that the "transformation" was challenging, but in view of the change in the auto industry but necessary. "Even though it may have been hard at one point or another in the discussion."

In the vehicle factories, VW is also expanding its e-production. After Zwickau factories in Emden and Hanover are converted, partly also in the USA. In China, the Group, together with its joint venture partner SAIC, built a pure e-car plant in Anting. Pre-production started there on Friday, mass production of MEB models is scheduled to start in October 2020. According to Diess, more than half of all e-cars in China are likely to be on the road by 2028.