German automotive giant Volkswagen is pausing its plans for a battery plant in eastern Europe and prioritising a cell factory in North America as it seeks to make use of the US’s $369bn green subsidy package.
The Financial Times reported today that Europe’s largest carmaker told officials in Brussels that it expected to gain between €9bn and €10bn in subsidies and loans from US president Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).
“Plans in North America have moved forward faster than expected and overtaken decision-making in Europe,” a person with direct knowledge of Volkswagen decision-making told the FT.
The EU presented its Green Industrial Plan on February 1 as a counter to the IRA, over concerns that European companies were being lured to make investments in the US. Volkswagen said that no decision had been made on the location of its plants and it was committed to its plans to build more cell factories in Europe.
“But for this, we need the right framework conditions. That is why we wait and see what the so-called EU Green Deal will bring,” the company told the FT. Scout Motors, a US carmaker which is owned by Volkswagen, announced on March 3 that it would invest $2bn to open a new battery plant in South Carolina.
Siemens Mobility to invest $220m into North Carolina rail manufacturing hub
German transport solutions giant Siemens Mobility plans to build a $220m advanced manufacturing and rail services facility in the city of Lexington, North Carolina.
The Munich-based company said on March 7 that the planned facility will create more than 500 new jobs and aims to fulfil growing demand for passenger rail in the US.
“America’s investing in rail, and we are investing in America,” said Roland Busch, the CEO of Siemens, who noted that the rail technology built at the facility will help millions of passengers around the country amid a resurgence in public transit and intercity travel.
Over the past four years, Siemens has invested $3bn in a mix of manufacturing expansions, mergers and acquisitions across the US, including nearly $400m to grow its manufacturing footprint.
Tunisia engagement paused over president’s anti-migration stance
The World Bank is putting talks on hold over its future engagement with Tunisia after the country’s president Kais Saied made anti-immigration remarks that were followed by violent attacks and led hundreds of migrants to flee the country.
The multilateral development bank’s outgoing president, David Malpass, said that “public commentary that stokes discrimination, aggression and racist violence is completely unacceptable,” in an internal message seen by the French international news agency Agence France-Presse on March 5.
“Given the situation, management has decided to pause the Country Partnership Framework and withdraw it from Board review,” Mr Malpass told staff in the message.
Mr Saied’s speech to his national security council on February 21 called for urgent action to stem the flow of migrants from sub-Saharan African countries. The president has since denied racism, but repeated his accusation that migration was part of a conspiracy to change the demographics of Tunisia.
And finally, US coffee chain Starbucks announced on March 6 that it is planning to open 100 new stores across the UK as part of its European expansion.