Magna International has set aside up to US$600m to invest in two plants to build batteries for electric vehicles, co-CEO Siegfried Wolf told reporters in Vienna.

One factory will be built in the EU and one in the US and a decision on where to build them will be made before the end of the year.

Magna started a new E-car business earlier this year that will focus exclusively on electric cars and will produce complete vehicles as well as battery units – still the most expensive and technologically challenging part of electric cars.

Magna’s E-car business is a joint venture with Magna’s founder Frank Stronach and is part of a complex deal that will reduce Stronach’s direct influence on Magna.

Wolf said it would begin serial car production in 2012 or 2013.