Volkswagen Group presented its technology roadmap specifically focusing on batteries in electric vehicles (EVs) on its inaugural Power Day. The company plans to make a lot of batteries at a lower cost as well as a massive leap in fast-charging infrastructure.
As the company plans to roll out more and more EVs, securing battery cells within Europe has become a major priority. As such, Volkswagen Group has not only contracted Sweden’s Northvolt but also increased its ownership in the cell manufacturing company that aims to deliver the world’s greenest batteries with minimal CO2 footprint.
“Volkswagen will continue to deepen the collaboration and partnership with Northvolt. They are one of our key battery suppliers as we make the transition to electric mobility – and there is potential to expand this partnership even further,” said Chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen Group Components, Thomas Schmall.
The supply contract that is reported to worth $14 billion over the next 10 years sees Volkswagen getting their premium batteries from Northvolt’s Ett gigafactory in Sweden from 2023. Northvolt’s second plant in Salzgitter, Germany, will be under Volkswagen ownership and expected to commence operations in 2025 and both plants will have an annual output of 40 GWh each (equivalent to over 600,000 units of EVs).
Volkswagen targets to have six battery factories with a combined energy value of 240 GWh per year by 2030 with its partners in Europe. The gigafactories will also manufacture new generation batteries that are simpler and lower in cost to manufacture.
The key to this approach is the unified cell utilisation, where up to 80% of the vehicles in the Volkswagen Group will begin to have it from 2023. Volkswagen is aiming to gradually reduce battery costs in the entry-level segment by up to 50% and in the volume segment by up to 30% The company as well as the technology partners view cost savings can be achieved through cell design, production process and the material used.
Vehicles targeted for the entry-level segment that is cost-sensitive will use higher quantity of iron phosphate in their cathode, while the volume segment will use a blend of nickel and manganese in its cathode for the best cost-to-value proposition.
Vehicles that offer the highest performance and price point will use more advanced NMC cells that has a blend of nickel, manganese and cobalt in the cathode. The share of EVs in the group’s fleet is to rise to at least 40% by 2030.
Volkswagen is also looking into introducing the solid-state battery system, where charging times will be cut to half (12 minutes) as we enter the second half of this decade in their example using a Volkswagen ID.4 Pro with a 77 kWh battery pack.
Volkswagen’s battery offensive is being accompanied by a large-scale expansion of the fast-charging network. Along with its partners such as IONITY, BP, Enel and Iberdrola, the company is investing $476 million and intends to operate about 18,000 public fast-charging points (150 kW DC) in Europe by 2025.
This represents a five-fold expansion of the fast-charging network compared to today and corresponds to about one-third of the total demand predicted on the continent for 2025.
Volkswagen also has other charging solutions planned, such as the mobile charging robot that can be used in tight spaces such as car parks.
China itself will see 17,000 fast-charging points installed through a joint venture with CAMS, with the USA planned to have 3,500 points in partnership with Electrify America.
Next year, surplus energy from the grid in Europe can be stored in Volkswagen EVs as the company plans to introduce bidirectional charging system. Energy stored in the battery packs of the ID.3 or ID.4 can be fed back into the home when needed.
EVs are great assistance during a disruption to the national grid, as the Japanese emergency services are already using the Nissan Leaf as a mobile power bank, with the Leaf supplying energy to power simple household appliances during blackouts from natural disasters.