(Bloomberg) -- The Czech Republic has expanded its push to become a producer of car batteries after talks with Volkswagen AG appeared to stall.
After preparing a site for VW’s potential next so-called gigafactory, the German carmaker told the government in Prague it couldn’t make a decision now, according to Prime Minister Petr Fiala.
“We can’t wait any longer for Volkswagen’s decision,” he told reporters on Wednesday after meeting the company’s Chief Executive Officer Oliver Blume earlier this week. “That means we will be focusing on other projects for battery production in the Czech Republic.”
Fiala’s administration has made it a strategic priority to help local carmakers transition to electromobility because the industry is the biggest employer and exporter for the $300 billion economy. The country is now in various stages of talks with five potential investors to build a battery plant, said Industry and Trade Minister Jozef Sikela, declining to give the names of the companies.
Volkswagen and its PowerCo unit have already picked locations for battery cell production in Germany, Spain and Canada, the world’s second-biggest carmaker and owner of top Czech manufacturer Skoda Auto AS said in a statement.
Based on current market conditions, including the “sluggish ramp-up” of the electric-vehicle market in Europe, “there is for the time being no business rationale for deciding on further sites,” Blume said in the statement.
--With assistance from Monica Raymunt.
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