Skoda's home country, the Czech Republic, would be an ideal location for "at least one" of six battery cell factories that Volkswagen Group intends to operate in Europe by 2030, brand CEO Thomas Schaefer said.
Schaefer said the country's geographic position in central Europe bordering other car-making countries, access to lithium and future demand for electric Skodas would make a battery plant economically feasible.
"We need one at least one gigafactory here," he said at Skoda's annual results conference on Wednesday. "You can't import such critical components forever from somewhere else; you need to also make them."
VW Group announced plans for the six factories at its Power Day held earlier this month, but so far only the location of two -- Skelleftea, Sweden and Salzgitter, Germany – have been announced. The Swedish plant, operated in partnership with Northvolt, will open in 2023 while Salzgitter will begin operations in 2025.
A third will be in France, Spain or Portugal and would open by 2026, VW's technology and procurement chief, Thomas Schmall, said in a statement, while Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic are possible locations for a fourth factory to open in 2027. "It depends on where we get the best set-up in the region," Schmall said.
The plants will have a production capacity of 240 gigawatt hours per year. The push will cost $29 billion and would make VW and its partners the world's second-largest cell producer after China's Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Ltd., according to BloombergNEF.
Schaefer said that discussions to find a site for a cell factory in the Czech Republic had started but were still in an early phase.
He said he expected full-electric vehicle would make up more than 50 percent of all Skoda sales in Europe by 2030. "Our core market is going to be the electric car market," he said.
Skoda currently sells two full-electric vehicles: the Citigo e-iV electric minicar and the Enyaq iV compact SUV, the first car from the brand built on the VW Group's MEB platform. This year Skoda will launch a coupe version of the Enyaq, and is working on a more affordable model on the same platform to sit below the Enyaq, Schaefer said.
The brand is also in line to develop a version of the VW Group small EV planned from 2025 and scheduled to be built by Seat
Seat has also made a strong pitch for a VW Group battery cell plant to be built near its factory in Martorell, Spain, with support from group CEO Herbert Diess.
"Our plans are bold: Conversion of Martorell into a fully electric car plant. Local cell production in Spain, build-up of infrastructure for fast charging and green energy," Diess wrote in a post on Linkedin in early March. Diess has not weighed in on Skoda's request for a Czech battery factory.