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VW's new competence center will bundle group electrical and electronic development activities (Photo: VW)

Volkswagen Group has opened a new R&D center that will bundle all of the carmaker's development activities in the area of electric mobility.

The new center is at the heart of Volkswagen's so-called "E-Campus," where Europe's largest automotive group hopes to develop deeper expertise in electric cars, digital networking, infotainment and driver-assistance systems.

Electric mobility is the core technology needed to meet Europe-wide emission targets set to take effect in 2020, VW Group Technology Chief Jakob Neusser said at the opening of the new center. The facility should also help the VW Group prepare for even tighter CO2 limits at a later date, he added.

The eight-story-high competence center, located at VW's headquarters in Wolfsburg, northern Germany, has 42,900 square meters of workspace. It features 1,360 desks and 400 positions in the workshop and laboratory areas.

The Volkswagen Group has been a relative latecomer in the electric-vehicle market, but the carmaker has over the past year rolled out several new electrically powered models. At the Beijing auto show in April, it announced plans to launch an electric Audi A3 e-tron4 model as well as an electric Golf GTE5. The company also said it would launch in China a locally developed hybrid Audi A6 and a new mid-sized VW limousine.

More recently, Volkswagen has started a major TV advertising campaign in Germany for the electric version of its best-selling Golf model, the e-Golf.

And on May 30, VW delivered the first XL1 model to a customer from Berlin. The XL1 is a futuristic plug-in hybrid sports car that can travel 100 kilometers on 0.9 liters of fuel. VW calls the car "the most efficient series-produced car in the world."