The Volkswagen Group will set up 16 production sites for electric vehicles by the end of 2022, a move that reinforces its commitment to its Roadmap E initiative. This was announced by Matthias Müller, CEO of Volkswagen AG, at the Group’s annual media conference recently.

Currently, the Group produces electric vehicles at three locations, but in two years’ time, a further nine plants are scheduled to be equipped for this purpose as well. This rapid expansion in EV production will require a reliable supply of batteries, which is why the Group has already formed partnerships with battery manufacturers in Europe and China.

According to an official statement, the awarded contracts to battery suppliers have total value of around 20 billion euros (about RM97 billion). This is before a supplier is decided for North American markets, which will be announced shortly.

“Over the last few months, we have pulled out all the stops to implement ‘Roadmap E’ with the necessary speed and determination,” said Müller. Under the Roadmap E initiative, the Group plans to build up to three million electric vehicles annually by 2025 and market 80 new electric models. This year alone, another nine new vehicles, three of which will be purely electric-powered, will be introduced to the Group’s portfolio of eight electric cars and plug-in hybrids.

During the Geneva Motor Show, the Group presented a wide range of environmentally-friendly concepts like the Audi e-tron, Porsche Mission E Cross Turismo Concept and Volkswagen I.D. Vizzion. It also stated that from 2019, there would be a new electric vehicle “virtually every month.” “This is how we intend to offer the largest fleet of electric vehicles in the world, across all brands and regions, in just a few years,” explained Müller.

While there is a genuine push for electric vehicles, the Group will not dismiss conventional drive systems. Diesel and petrol engines still have a part to play in the Group’s future, and it will continue to invest in these conventional drive systems moving forward – 20 billion euros in 2018 (about RM97 billion), with over 90 billion euros (about RM435 billion) scheduled over the next five years.

These efforts are backed by a strong financial performance by the Group, which ended 2017 with a net liquidity of 22.4 billion euros (about RM108 billion). Sales revenue was up 6.2% last year at 230.7 billion euros (about RM1.1 trillion), with 10.7 million cars delivered.

In other financial data, operating profit was also described as the Group’s “best ever” at 13.8 billion euros (about RM67 billion), despite adjustments for special items relating to the diesel issue. These special items involve buyback and recall programmes for affected TDI vehicles and other legal risks.