Mar 29 2014, 12:56pm CDT | by Forbes
Chinese President Xi Jinping joined Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn for a friendly football (soccer) match in Berlin between young players from China and Germany on Saturday, the last day of a whirlwind two-day visit aimed at strengthening economic ties between the two countries.
Volkswagen has agreed to produce eco-friendly models with its two Chinese partners, Shanghai-based SAIC Motor Co. and First Automotive Works Group, and it got the green light for additional production capacity through the venture with FAW.
Daimler AG will also gain an increase in production capacity with its partner Beijing Automotve Industry Co., and BMW pledged to strengthen the ties with its Chinese partner, Brilliance Automotive Holdings Ltd, at a high-wattage ceremony Friday attended by Chancellor Angela Merkel and top Chinese and German industry leaders.
Xi called for a “quantum leap” in the business relations between the two countries. Germany is China’s leading trading partner in Europe, its second-biggest trading partner after the United States, and Volkswagen established one of the earliest and biggest joint car-making ventures with a Chinese company 30 years ago.
VW and its venture partners plan to invest €18.2 billion to build factories and develop models for China between 2014 and 2018. They produced and sold more than 3 million vehicles in China last year and aim to increase that to 4 million by 2018, when VW aspires to be the global industry leader.
Xi visited VW’s headquarters in nearby Wolfsburg on Saturday morning, and then he and his wife joined Winterkorn at the Berlin Olympics site for the match, sponsored by the Rainbow Bridge Project, a Chinese initiative that offers vocational training and football/soccer coaching to young Chinese people from poor regions, VW has been a sponsor since 2013.
Winterkorn, an avid football/soccer fan, can be seen often at matches in Wolfsburg, at times with Bernd Osterloh, VW’s highest-ranking employee representative. It’s perhaps a relaxing place to talk shop.
Source: Forbes Auto
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