Tesla aren’t the only automaker with plans to make their own EV batteries. Volkswagen Group have begun pilot production at their cell production facility in Salzgitter this week. The plant is expected to begin full-scale production by 2024, providing the batteries needed for VW’s company-wide transition away from combustion.
In-house battery production is an expensive bet for automakers and many have opted to avoid it altogether. Even investing in a shift to electric vehicle manufacturing has been a reluctant move for some, which makes Volkswagen’s ambitious ID. plan that much more impressive.
We saw the beginnings of that transition on full display in Frankfurt earlier this month. The ID.3 electric hatchback will be produced and delivered to European customers next year, with the ID.4 SUV expected to make its way to Australian and US customers sometime in 2021.
Volkswagen’s electric SUV is coming to Australia
Volkswagen are expecting to sell hundreds of thousands of their new EVs and their investment in battery cell production is a major part of the plan. VW know that controlling their own cell supply will be essential to bringing down EV prices in the next decade.
How far away is the $100 per kWh EV battery?
The city of Salzgitter sits right at the centre of Germany’s landmass, about 300 km Northwest of Volkswagen’s Zwickau factory where the first of their ID. range electric vehicles will be made. VW began work on the plant as part of their partnership with Swedish batterymaker Northvolt announced earlier this year.
The Salzgitter plant is slated to begin production in earnest in 2023-24. VW have invested over €900 million in the Northvolt partnership, plus over €100 million in their own battery development and production expertise.
The plans also include battery recycling, with a pilot line set to begin operating in 2020. Frank Blome heads the ‘Center for Excellence’ for battery cell production in Salzgitter:
“The experience gained will contribute to mastering the entire value chain for lithium-ion batteries – from raw materials through production to recycling.”
Once complete, the Salzgitter facility is expected to output 16 GWh of cell capacity per year. This isn’t quite up to the ambitions of Tesla’s gigafactories, but it marks a valuable step forward in battery development from the world’s largest legacy automaker.
That capacity won’t just be going toward VW-branded EVs. Volkswagen Group controls a number of the world’s premier automakers including Porsche, Audi, Lamborghini, Bentley, and Bugatti. Some of these manufacturers’ models including the Porsche Taycan and Audi e-tron will be among the first to benefit from the Salzgitter plant’s batteries.