Salzgitter / Wolfsburg (dpa) - Volkswagen wants to increase the capacity of its planned battery cell factory in Salzgitter again by half.

Instead of the initially planned 16, the plant will be designed for up to 24 gigawatt hours (GWh) per year, the company said on Friday. For this purpose, an expansion is planned after the first stage. The planning application will be submitted in March.

The Wolfsburg-based company plans to build battery cell production in a total of three lines with its Swedish partner Northvolt. The aim of our own factory is also to reduce the high dependency on suppliers from Asia when equipping electric cars. Work on the plant is to start at the beginning of 2021; the target date for the start of production in Salzgitter is the beginning of 2024.

At the end of September, VW had already started manufacturing cells for prototypes. This pilot line is primarily used for further technical coordination - but the experience should also be incorporated into the large series joint venture with Northvolt. By the turn of 2023/24, more than one billion euros will have been invested in Salzgitter, with more than 1,000 jobs to be created in the medium term. At the opening of the small series line in autumn, it was said that in the long term, a battery capacity of 150 gigawatt hours would be targeted across the group.

The majority of the employees at the VW location in Salzgitter are currently still employed in the production of internal combustion engines. The company's own battery cells are an important component in the Group's "electrical offensive". By 2024, a total of around 33 billion euros will flow into e-mobility, compared to 11 billion euros for the core VW car brand.