‘Power Day’: VW to build six battery gigafactories
Yesterday, the Volkswagen Group presented its technology roadmap for batteries and charging up to 2030 today on its first s-called ‘Power Day’. It wants six gigafactories of battery cells before 2030, totaling 240 GWh.
The roadmap’s goal is to significantly reduce the battery’s complexity and cost to make the electric car attractive and viable for as many people as possible.
Volkswagen is also vigorously pursuing expansion of the public fast-charging network globally. With this in mind, cooperations have been agreed in Europe with the energy companies BP (Great Britain), Iberdrola (Spain), and Enel (Italy).
“E-mobility has become core business for us. We are now systematically integrating additional stages in the value chain. We secure a long-term pole position in the race for the best battery and best customer experience in the age of zero-emission mobility,” said Herbert Diess, Chairman of the Board of Management of the Volkswagen Group.
Cross-brand responsibility for this technology roadmap will lie with Volkswagen Group Components led by Thomas Schmall, its CEO.
Cell production of 240 GWh/year
The Group is pushing ahead with developing production capacities in Europe to meet the increasing demand for battery cells. “Together with partners, we want to have a total of six cell factories up and running in Europe by 2030, thus guaranteeing the security of supply,” explains Thomas Schmall.
The new factories are expected to produce cells with a total energy value of 240 GWh per year by the time they are finally completed. The first two factories will operate in Skellefteå (Sweden) and Salzgitter (Germany).
Where the others will be built is not known yet. The odds are that there will be one at Seat (Spain) and one in France and Italy. For sure, all European countries are interested in those investments.
VW will concentrate the production of its premium cells in the Swedish gigafactory ‘Northvolt Ett’ in Skellefteå in collaboration with Northvolt. The production is set to commence in 2023 and will be expanded gradually to an annual capacity of up to 40 GWh.
The gigafactory currently operated by Volkswagen in Salzgitter will produce the unified cell for the high-volume segment from 2025. A production capacity of up to 40 GWh per year is also planned for Salzgitter.
Unified cell lowers the cost
Aside from the planned in-house production, significant cost benefits are expected, thanks to the new unified cell primarily. It is set to be launched as of 2023 and will be installed across brands in up to 80 percent of all the electric vehicles in the Group in 2030.
Volkswagen aims to gradually reduce battery costs in the entry-level segment by up to 50 percent and in the volume segment by up to 30 percent. “We will use our economies of scale to the benefit of our customers when it comes to the battery too. On average, we will drive down the cost of battery systems to significantly below €100/kWh. This will finally make e-mobility affordable and the dominant drive technology,” says Thomas Schmall.
According to VW, the new prismatic unified cell also offers the best conditions for the transition to the solid-state cell – the next quantum leap in battery technology, which the company anticipates for the middle of the decade.
An expansion of the fast-charging network is accompanying Volkswagen’s battery offensive. Along with its partners, the company intends to operate about 18 000 public fast-charging points in Europe by 2025. This represents a five-fold expansion of the fast-charging network compared to today and one-third of the total demand predicted on the continent for 2025.
This will be done through a series of strategic partnerships in addition to the joint venture Ionity. Volkswagen wants to establish about 8 000 fast-charging points throughout Europe together with BP. The fast-chargers with a charging capacity of 150 kW will be installed at a total of 4 000 BP and Aral service stations, with most of these in Germany and Great Britain.
In cooperation with Iberdrola, VW will cover the main traffic routes in Spain. In Italy, Volkswagen wants to collaborate with Enel to establish a fast-charging network both along highways and urban areas. VW is expanding the public fast-charging network in the US and China too. Electrify America is planning around 3 500 fast-charging points in North America by the end of the year.
In China, a total of 17 000 fast-charging points are being targeted by Volkswagen by 2025 through the CAMS joint venture.
Integrate the grid
VW intends to integrate the electric car in private, commercial, and public energy systems in the future. This will allow green electricity from the solar energy system to be stored in the vehicle and fed back into the home network if needed.
Not only will customers be more independent of the public power grid, but they will also save money and reduce CO2 emissions. Models based on Volkswagen’s own MEB platform will support this technology from 2022.
Volkswagen will also offer a complete package with all modules and digital services – from the bi-directional wall box to energy management. The technology is soon to be used on a larger scale – for example, in residential buildings, businesses, or in the general power grid.