This Week in Batteries – Week 28

After skipping one week, here’s this week’s battery roundup. The most important news surrounding European battery technology and production.

VW Updates Electrification Roadmap

On Tuesday, VW updated its electrification strategy “NEW AUTO“. Of particular interest to battery enthusiasts is the decision to choose Spain as the third of six locations for VW’s Gigafactories (including the Northvolt factory).

Thomas Schmall presenting the updates to VW’s battery strategy. Credit: VW Group

For the 40 GWh battery plant in Salzgitter, Chinese company Gotion High-Tech was announced as the technology partner. Production at the site will start in 2025. In the future, a balance of ‘make or buy’ will be established in the battery field. Battery lead Thomas Schmall stressed the importance of vertical diversification once again:

“A Volkswagen-controlled battery supply chain will enable us to have authority over the biggest cost block, offer the best and most sustainable batteries to our customers and secure BEV success.”

Thomas Schmall, CEO Group Components, VW Group

The cells themselves were already presented at Power Day. The unified cell design will be present in 80% of cars by 2030. The solid-state battery, which QuantumScape is currently developing, will feature the same format. Click here to watch the segment on batteries.

Northvolt Plans German Gigafactory – Energy Mix Concerns

At Power Day, VW announced that it would not build the battery factory in Salzgitter together with Northvolt as previously planned, but on its own. However, the Swedish startup will still supply VW with battery cells from 2023 on. Now Northvolt is in talks with several German federal states to build its own Gigafactory, according to the magazine “Automobilwoche“. A major concern is the energy mix in Germany, which is difficult to reconcile with Northvolt‘s principle of “producing the greenest battery in the world”. For comparison: in Sweden, 56% of the energy comes from renewables, in Germany only 45%. The mix varies greatly depending on the region, as you can see on this map. Public funding could facilitate that decision.

European Green Deal

The European Commission presented its proposal “Fit for 55“, which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 (compared to 1990). One part of the proposal is the reduction of emissions from new passenger cars to 0 by 2035, which is equivalent to a ban on registering new ICE cars from 2035 onwards. At the same time, an emissions trading system similar to the one used in the electricity industry will be created.

Ursula von der Leyen presenting the “Fit for 55” package of proposals. Credit: European Union, 2021

The importance of a sustainable value chain for batteries is also mentioned in the package of proposals. As I mentioned in my article about European lithium, the European Commission had already set itself the goal of diversifying the sources of lithium, for example. This could include local sourcing.

“While infrastructure obligations will put in place the necessary charging and refuelling stations to serve the millions of new vehicles that are expected by 2030 and while we continue to build a sustainable and globally competitive battery value chain.”

Extract from ‘Fit for 55’

Farasis Energy Reconsiders German Gigafactory

In 2019, Farasis Energy announced plans to build a battery factory in Bitterfeld, near Leipzig, Germany. This factory was to open its doors as early as 2022. Now, these plans are in limbo.

The change of plans became known as part of the new European strategy. Two weeks ago, the company already named two new customers. The fact that it is becoming increasingly likely that Daimler will produce its own battery cells may have played a role. It is unclear whether the construction of the factory will just be delayed or if Farasis will go back to the drawing board.

SVOLT Secures Contract With Stellantis

Last week, Stellantis presented its new electrification strategy at “EV Day 2021”. I compared it to the strategies of Tesla, Renault, and VW in my most recent article. This week, SVOLT announced it would join the list of companies that will supply Stellantis (a merger of different automotive companies) with battery cells, starting in 2025.

SVOLT battery cell production site in Überherrn. Credit: SVOLT

Which of the cell chemistries SVOLT will produce was not disclosed. Stellantis will rely on two lithium-ion cell chemistries: a nickel-free cathode active material consisting of iron, manganese, and another ingredient and a combination of nickel, manganese, and a third component. Chinese SVOLT plans to implement a 24GWh battery factory in southwestern Germany by 2023.

This is not a complete list of news from this week but the press releases and articles I found the most interesting. Let me know if I missed anything important. I am working on another detailed article at the moment but I am always interested in ideas for further posts, so let me know what you want to read about.

You can also follow me on Twitter (@BatteryBayEU), where I post some of the news before they end up in my weekly roundup. I’m looking forward to learning about your involvement or interest in the industry and chatting about everything batteries.

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

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