Volkswagen Group CEO Oliver Blume will travel to China next month as part of the automaker’s push to preserve its share of the world’s largest car market, according to people familiar with the plans.
Blume will join a high-ranking German delegation led by Chancellor Olaf Scholz on a trip planned around Nov. 4, the people said, asking not to be identified because the plans are private.
A VW spokesperson declined to comment.
Blume is under pressure to improve VW’s performance in China, the company’s biggest market with roughly 40 percent of deliveries.
Sales last year fell 4.5 percent due to poor handling of the chip shortage and a dearth of digital features that China’s tech-savvy drivers have increasingly come to expect.
Bolstering the Chinese business is among the priorities Blume set out after taking over the top job at Europe’s biggest automaker from Herbert Diess.
For the German government, the trip is a delicate balancing act to discuss business interests and human rights violations, Bloomberg reported last week.
Berlin is working to hone a new national strategy on China that aims to ensure less reliance on the world’s second-largest economy, diversify supply chains and enhance security.
Siemens CEO Roland Busch will also join the delegation, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported on Friday.
European automakers have been weighing their business and production strategy in China after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine triggered a long list of sanctions.
Concerns have grown that similar sanctions would apply to China if the country were to assert itself in Taiwan.
VW operates several vehicle and components factories in China along with partners. Last week, the company said it will invest 2.4 billion euros ($2.4 billion) to set up an autonomous driving joint venture with China’s Horizon Robotics to strengthen its tech presence in the country.