VW opens one of EU’s most sophisticated battery labs
Under the flag of its Components department, German carmaker Volkswagen opened in Salzgitter on Monday one of Europe’s most sophisticated battery cell labs, as it claims in the press release. In addition, VW invests another 70 million euros in expanding battery research in four different labs and creates around 250 high-tech jobs.
Salzgitter in Germany is Volkswagen’s headquarters for material testing, release testing, quality assurance, and series monitoring of cells for electric car batteries. The new labs will enable extensive cell testing programs, and future battery technologies will originate here.
Charging in 12 minutes
For example, VW cites tests including cells that can be charged from 5 to 80 percent battery power within 12 minutes. In addition, Salzgitter has one of the world’s few scanning electron microscopes for detecting lithium. Other equipment includes a highly automated test field to test cells for performance and signs of aging during rapid charging and discharging.
Of the 500 employees working at the Center of Excellence (CoE) Battery Cell, 160 are currently involved in battery cell development. Four new labs are built on a 2 500 square meter compound where 250 researchers will start, to be expanded to 1 000 shortly.
Endurance and safety tests
“In the analytics lab, researchers disassemble components and raw materials of the cells and perform competitive analyses as well as quality assurance,” the press release says. “In the environmental and safety laboratory, cells are subjected to endurance tests in six special chambers and subjected to electrical, thermal, or mechanical stresses, for example. New test methods are also researched here.
In the electrical test field, laboratory and series cells of all formats and power classes are measured electrically and tested for performance, aging phenomena, and long-term robustness.”
Battery production with Northvolt
Salzgitter won’t be only a research facility but also a major battery cell production site for Volkswagen, cooperating with Swedish battery maker Northvolt. In June, Volkswagen has injected another 509 million euros ($620 million) into its Swedish battery partner, in which it holds a 20% stake.
At Salzgitter, both partners will build a ‘Northvolt Two’ giga-battery factory that will produce 16 GWh by the end of 2023, to be upscaled to 24 GWh later. By 2025, the Volkswagen unified cell is scheduled to roll off the production line in Salzgitter.
Six gigafactories by 2030
VW’s unified cell technology uses the same battery formats, just with different chemistries inside, to make designing future EVs less expensive and requiring less development time. This unified cell is set to be launched in 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 30 percent. In March, at its Power Days, the Volkswagen Group announced it wants six gigafactories for battery cells before 2030, totaling 240 GWh.