Who Will Win the Battery Race: Tesla, VW, Renault or Stellantis?

Who has the best chances of becoming a leader in the European battery ecosystem? Credit: Tesla Inc., VW Group, Renault Group, Stellantis

After Tesla, the trailblazer in electric mobility, shared its plans at “Battery Day”, several major automakers followed suit. VW, Renault, and most recently Stellantis shared their electrification strategies at high-profile events. Besides new EV models and platforms, the companies presented their plans on batteries, production, and cooperations.

Let’s take a look at the specifications revealed at Renault’s “eWays” and Stellantis’ “EV Day 2021” and see how they stack up against Volkswagen’s strategy revealed at “Power Day” in March and Tesla’s strategy from “Battery Day” in September 2020.

This is a first overview of the announcements, let me know what topic you’d like to read a separate article about!

  1. Battery Specifications
  2. Future Innovation
  3. Cost Saving Factors
  4. Production Volume and Timeline
  5. Can These Strategies Establish Europe as a Competetive Battery Hub?

Battery Specifications

A particularly interesting part of each presentation covers the different cell chemistries and designs. Even though the companies of course do not disclose their trade secrets, they revealed certain specifications, which I have summarised in the table below.

The four companies have each committed to one form factor, but offer different cell chemistries depending on the market segment.

Asterisks (*) mark guesses and estimations in the tables.

Battery SpecsTeslaVWRenaultStellantis
Cell ChemistriesCathode:
1. LFP
2. NiMn
3. High Ni
Anode:
Si
Cathode:
1. LFP
2. High Mn
3. NMC
Anode:
High Si
Cathode:
Two types of NMC cells
Cathode:
1. Fe+Mn+?
2. Ni+Mn+?
Anode:
Graphite
ShapeCylindricalPrismaticPouch Cell*Pouch Cell
Battery Pack Vehicle IntegrationCell2Pack;
Structural
First modules; In the future Cell2Pack and structuralModulesFirst modules;
Cell2Pack (2026)
Energy Density
(Cell Level)
~730 Wh/l*up to 800 Wh/lup to 700 Wh/lup to 700 Wh/l
PartnersContracts with Panasonic, LG, CATL, BYDNorthvoltEnvision AESC, Verkor;
Contract with LG
acc;
Contracts with CATL, BYD, SVOLT, SAMSUNG, LG
*Estimation

Renault did not share specifications on the shape of the cells. Since both the current partner LG and the future partners Envision AESC and Verkor are developing pouch cells, this form factor can be assumed.

Tesla, Volkswagen, and Stellantis are implementing an approach to integrate battery cells without modules (Cell2Pack). Tesla and VW are going one step further: they are developing a structural battery pack.

Future Innovation

InnovationTeslaVWRenaultStellantis
Dry CoatingYesYesNoNo
Solid-State BatteriesNoby 2025by 2030by 2026

Recycling
60% recycling (2019)Pilot Plant in Salzgitter2nd use: grid storage;
> 80% Recycling with Veolia and Solvey up;
2nd use: charging stations and home storage; 90-99% recycling
*Estimation

One of the exciting announcements from Stellantis was the development and implementation of solid-state batteries (SSB) by 2026. Renault also expects to introduce it by 2030, which is supposed to result in further cost savings. A few years ago, they were still promising a market-ready SSB 2025, but now they are talking about 2030. Renault had previously invested in Colorado-based SSB startup Ionic Materials.

VW has invested around $300 million in QuantumScape, which wants to manufacture solid-state batteries together with VW, possibly in Salzgitter from 2025. Check out my article The State of Solid State if you’re interested in the European automakers’ strategies for solid-state batteries!

Sustainability in terms of raw materials also plays a big role in the strategies. All companies have presented their recycling efforts. Additionally, Stellantis has signed MOUs with companies that extract lithium from geothermal brine in North America and Europe to ensure a sustainable supply of lithium. In a recent post I looked at different European lithium projects, one of the companies mentioned in the article might very well be this European partner.

Cost Saving Factors

At “Battery Day” and “Power Day”, the cost savings were broken down into the factors that affect them. As you can see in the table below, the figures are similar.

Renault also expects cost savings of around 50%. In the presentation however, they used 2019 as a basis, which makes the numbers difficult to compare directly. Stellantis wants to reduce costs by 40% until 2024 and by an additional 20% until 2030.

Cost Saving FactorsTeslaVWRenaultStellantis
Cell / (Module) Design-14%-15%-15%-17%
Production-18%-10%??
Anode / Cathode Materials -17%-20%-16%-16%
Battery Pack Integration-7%-5%-5%-7%
Savings from 2025-26%-20%
Total Savings-56% (2025)-50% (2025)-36% (2019-2024)
-62% (2019-2030)
-40% (2024)
-60% (2030)
Absolute Cost
(Pack Level)
69-83 $/kWh**
“well below” 119 $/kWh
100 $/kWh (2024)
<80 $/kWh (2030)
?
*Estimation; **For Tesla, there is only data available for the cost at the cell level. I used an industry average to calculate the cost at the pack level.

When you look at these values you have to keep in mind two things:

  1. Since battery prices also depend on raw material prices and their fluctuations, these cost savings can’t be guaranteed and raw material prices need to be kept an eye on.
  2. Even if the cost changes by the same factor, the absolute prices are very different. I have entered these absolute costs per kWh in the table. This is partly due to manufacturing processes, as e.g. cylindrical cells are cheaper to produce than prismatic cells. Stellantis did not reveal any data on the absolute cost of the batteries.

Production Volume and Timeline

Stellantis revealed its plans to build three Gigafactories with a total capacity of 130 GWh in Europe and North America. By 2030, they plan to have established five Gigafactories producing 260 GWh worth of batteries annually.

For Renault, it is difficult to estimate future battery production volumes. The new cooperations with Verkor and envision AESC will produce 19 GWh by 2024 and 44 GWh by 2030. At the press conference, there was talk of producing batteries for around 400,000 cars annually for the Renault Group by 2030; and for 1,000,000 cars in the alliance with Mitsubishi and Nissan. As I recently mentioned, Nissan also has concrete plans for European battery production. A Gigafactory with up to 25 GWh, potentially 35 GWh, is to be built in Sunderland. Keep this in mind when comparing the numbers with Tesla and VW.

As a supporting source to the official publications by the companies, I used this great video summary by Cleanerwatt. They came up with the calculation to compare the different capacities by the number of average EVs that could be supplied with batteries.

TimelineTeslaVWRenault + PartnersStellantis
20251,000 GWh80 GWh (EU)?130 GWh
(80 GWh in EU)
20303,000 GWh240 GWh (EU)70 GWh*260 GWh
(170 GWh in EU)
Vehicles Equivalent (70 kWh)42.9 million*3.4 million*1 million3.7 million*
*Estimation

VW plans to build 6 Gigafactories with 40GWh each in the coming years.
Tesla plans to produce 3 TWh per year by 2030. Keep in mind: this includes semi-trucks and home storage, Tesla will probably not produce 43 million cars annually!

Can These Strategies Establish Europe as a Competetive Battery Hub?

Overall, these announcements are all very ambitious but must be taken with a grain of salt. Uncertainties about lithium prices, regulation, and the actual timeline of technologies such as SSB will greatly influence these plans. Generally, Tesla still seems to be leading the pack. When looking at Europe, VW’s and Stellantis’ numbers look pretty similar. However, VW has more of a proven track record of pushing electrification forward. So far, Renault has the least ambitious plans volume-wise. It will be interesting to see what the company and its partners will present in the future and whether it will catch up. I’m also looking forward to finding out more about the batteries themselves in the future.
It’s great to see European companies present their strategies and emphasize the importance of the battery for a sustainable future. It’s the only way Europe can play an important role in the future of electromobility and battery production.

Feel free to contact me on Twitter (@BatteryBayEU) if you’d like to share your opinions or insights on the recent announcements by Renault and Stellantis. I’d love to hear what other people think about the companies’ position in the European battery landscape. You can also follow me there to get my weekly battery update.

Also, please feel free to use the comment section below to leave any feedback or suggestions!

If you want to find out more, check out my sources: Tesla, VW, Renault, Stellantis

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2 thoughts on “Who Will Win the Battery Race: Tesla, VW, Renault or Stellantis?

  1. Hi,
    really interesting summary, what about Volvo plans?
    They seem to be pretty aggressive as well both for time and volumes.
    Thanks
    Daniele

    1. Hi Daniele,
      yes, they are indeed very ambitious. I have found some joint ventures and announcements but not a lot of details on the batteries.
      I am looking forward to finding out more in the future. Maybe I’ll update my post with more companies at some point.
      Greetings
      Joanna

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