Volkswagen enters global battery business with PowerCo
PowerCo to drive VW Group’s global battery activities; Salzgitter cell factory to be blueprint and starting point for global battery offensive – with six cell factories in Europe and the prospect of further factories in North America in the future
Volkswagen, which is aggressively driving its e-mobility strategy, yesterday broke ground for its first cell factory in Salzgitter today in the presence of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. Production will start in 2025.
Responsibility for global battery business is to be held by the newly created company ‘PowerCo’. In addition to cell production, the new company will be responsible for activities along the entire battery value chain. Up to 2030, PowerCo is to invest more than 20 billion euros (Rs 164,940 crore) together with partners in the development of the business area, to generate annual sales in excess of 20 billion euros and to employ up to 20,000 people in Europe alone.
Herbert Diess, CEO of Volkswagen AG, said: “Today we are not only laying a foundation stone but also marking a strategic milestone. The battery cell business is one of the cornerstones of our NEW AUTO strategy which will make Volkswagen a leading provider of the sustainable, software-driven mobility of tomorrow. Establishing our own cell factory is a megaproject in technical and economic terms. It shows that we are bringing the leading-edge technology of the future to Germany!”
Future giga-factory for battery cells at the Salzgitter site
Bundling global battery activities
The Volkswagen Group is bundling its global battery activities in the European company (SE) PowerCo. From Salzgitter, the company will, with immediate effect, manage international factory operations, the further development of cell technology, the vertical integration of the value chain and the supply of machinery and equipment to the factories. Looking ahead, further products such as major storage systems for the energy grid are planned. Following Salzgitter, the next cell factory is to be established at Valencia. Sites are currently being identified for three further cell factories in Europe. In addition to Europe, PowerCo is also already exploring the possibility of further gigafactories in North America.
Thomas Schmall, Member of the Board of Management of Volkswagen AG responsible for Technology and Supervisory Board Chairman of PowerCo, said: “In building our first in-house cell factory, we are consistently implementing our technology roadmap. PowerCo will become a global battery player. The company’s major strength will be vertical integration from raw materials and the cell right through to recycling. In future, we will handle all the relevant activities in-house and will gain a strategic competitive advantage in the race to take the lead in e-mobility. We have secured a top team for this great undertaking.”
Standard factory and unified cell enable rapid global rollout
On the occasion of the ground breaking ceremony, the Group presented the concept of the standard factory for the first time; Salzgitter is to be a blueprint for cell factories throughout Europe and will set new standards in terms of sustainability and innovation.
“What we have put to the test millions of times over with vehicle platforms such as the MQB and MEB will also lay the foundation for establishing cell production: we will be standardizing on the basis of European standards and upscaling. This way, we will combine speed and cost optimization with the highest quality levels“, said PowerCo CEO Frank Blome. Standardization will not only cover equipment, buildings and infrastructure but also products, processes and IT. This way, factories that can rapidly be converted for further product and production innovations will be created. Each factory will be operated 100 percent on electricity from regenerative sources and will be designed for future closed-loop recycling.
Volkswagen also unveiled the prismatic unified cell announced at the Power Day in 2021. This allows the flexible use of a raft of different cell chemistries and will be used in up to 80 percent of all Group models. At Salzgitter, unified cells for the volume segment are to be produced from 2025 onwards.
In future, the plant is to reach an annual capacity of 40 GWh – enough for about 500,000 electric vehicles. By 2030, the Volkswagen Group intends to operate six cell factories with a total volume of 240 GWh throughout Europe together with partners. The new unified cell harnesses synergy effects and will reduce battery costs by up to 50 percent. The prototypes produced to date have demonstrated highly promising performance with respect to range, charging times and safety – essential prerequisites for a future industrial standard.
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