Volkswagen said on Monday it had started to convert its Emden plant in Germany to an EV factory with the first electric cars expected off the line there from 2022.

Emden will be the first plant in Lower Saxony to produce a large volume of electric vehicles, starting with the ID.4 compact SUV with other models to follow.

Production of the Passat sedan and estate, Arteon and the new Shooting Brake will continue for a transitional period of several years.

In the final stage of development, the plant will have a design production capacity of up to 300,000 electric vehicles per year.

Ralf Brandstätter, CEO of the Volkswagen brand, said: "All in all, the company will invest about EUR1bn in the transformation of the factory.

"Emden will be developed into a cornerstone of our electric strategy."

Core to the conversion project is construction of a new factory hall with an area of 50,000 square metres where only electric vehicles will be assembled.

The press shop and body shop are also to be expanded by 23,000 square metres.

The paint shop is to be modernised and a new 'bi colour hall' with an area of 6,000 square meters is to be constructed for painting vehicle roofs black.

The two colour paintwork is one of the trademarks of the ID model line.

A new high bay shelving unit and an automated small parts warehouse are also planned.

The buildings are expected to be completed by the summer of 2021.

"We are converting a major automobile plant during production," said plant manager Uwe Schwartz.

Plant employees previously built the Passat GTE.

Since autumn 2019, Emden workers have been helping with the installation of equipment and start of EV production at Zwickau and will use expertise they have gained at Emden.

Employees at the plant will have completed 60,000 days of training by the time production starts.

Up to 2024, the VW brand is investing about EUR11bn in e-mobility and transforming many plants.

In Germany, electric vehicles will be produced at Zwickau, Emden, Hanover, Zuffenhausen and Dresden.

Outside Germany, EVs will be manufactured at Mlada Boleslav [Skoda], Chattanooga in the US plus Foshan and Anting in China.