Volkswagen opens new battery cell plant in Germany

Volkswagen has cut the red ribbon on its state-of-the-art laboratory center for battery cells in Salzgitter, Germany.

The opening of the new lab is the next step towards Volkswagen producing and developing its own battery cells and from 2025, the Volkswagen unified cell is scheduled to roll off the production line in Salzgitter. In the future, around 250 experts will conduct research in the areas of cell development, analytics and testing in a total of four laboratories.

Volkswagen is investing around 70 million euros (c.£59.6 million) in the facilities which will be responsible for Group-wide material testing, release testing, quality assurance and series monitoring of cells for electric car batteries.

Of the approximately 500 employees at the Center of Excellence (CoE) Battery Cell in Salzgitter, around 160 are currently involved in cell development. By the end of 2022, the CoE is expected to grow to more than 1000 employees, including around 250 experts for research, analysis and development of suitable cell materials and formats.

The manufacturer says the new laboratories will enable extensive cell testing programs with up to 200 different analytical methods and the development of new formulations on an initial area of 2,500 square meters.

The equipment and technology on display at the Salzgitter plant includes 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. The test includes cells that can be charged from 5 to 80 percent battery power within 12 minutes.

Thomas Schmall, Group board member for technology at Volkswagen AG and chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen Group Components, said: “With the new, state-of-the-art laboratories, we are further expanding our development, process and production expertise for the battery cell – the heart of the battery electric vehicle.

“Volkswagen’s Salzgitter site demonstrates how the transformation of the German automotive industry from conventional drive systems to e-mobility can succeed. We are attracting cutting-edge researchers and, as a pioneer in the industry, create the jobs of tomorrow.”

Schmall is responsible for the battery and charging technology roadmap across all brands in the VW Group. The roadmap was presented at the “Power Day” in March this year, and the future technologies of battery and charging again came into focus as key areas of the Group’s NEW AUTO strategy in July.

“With the opening of the laboratories, we have reached the next strategic milestone. Now we are pushing ahead with preparations for our own cell production with all our strength,” Schmall added.

By 2030, the Volkswagen Group plans to operate six-cell factories in Europe together with partners with a production capacity of 240 GWh. Prospectively, cells with an annual capacity of 40 GWh will be produced in Salzgitter. The new unified cell is expected to unlock synergies and reduce battery costs by up to 50 percent.

Frank Blome, head of the battery cell and battery system business unit, also commented: “In the future, innovations for the cells of today and tomorrow will be created in Salzgitter. Its equipment makes the new laboratories one of the most modern facilities for cell research in Europe.

“One of the most important future technologies for the Volkswagen Group is being driven forward here. Everything that is done at the Center of Excellence Battery Cell serves to provide customers of all Group brands with e-vehicles with the greatest possible range, charging performance, sustainability and safety.”

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