The solid cell is considered the next big thing in battery technology. The battery specialist and Volkswagen partner QuantumScape only announced the first findings and performance data on its prototype cells in December 2020. Shortly afterward, the pilot factory was launched in California, USA. Now QuantumScape could come to Germany with the solid-state battery. Together with the VW Group, the construction of a battery factory in Salzgitter is being considered.
In Salzgitter, the series production of the so-called solid-state batteries should then start, further development of the lithium-ion batteries currently in use for electric cars. In the first step, however, a pilot line is planned to test the technology with an annual production capacity of a one-gigawatt hour (GWh). In a subsequent step, the annual output is to be expanded to 20 GWh. A final decision on the location should be made by the end of 2021, the company said in a corresponding message.
Still no final decision
A Volkswagen spokesman said on request that there was still no final decision on a pilot system for the solid fuel cell in Salzgitter, as the Automobilwoche knows. This will be met in the fourth quarter at the latest. The VW spokesman, however, indicates that such a production can only be built with government funding in Germany. “Because without such funding, Salzgitter has little chance in a European and international comparison ,” he said.
To compare the costs, take a look at the pilot factory in the USA: An investment of 230 to 290 million US dollars is planned there, which is to flow into the construction of the pilot factory. Corresponding cash is available thanks to private financing from Volkswagen and a recent SPAC deal for an IPO (NYSE: QS). An investment of a similar amount can be expected for Germany.
Investing multi-billion dollars for the future
Volkswagen is investing around 16 billion euros in the future topics of e-mobility , hybridization and digitization by 2025 . By 2030, the share of pure e-cars in sales in Europe is to increase to more than 70 percent – double the previous plan of 35 percent. As part of the Volkswagen Power Day , the group is presenting its technology roadmap for the areas of batteries and charging by 2030. The aim of the roadmap is to significantly reduce the complexity and costs of the battery for the electric carto make it attractive and affordable for as many people as possible.
Up to now, it has been assumed that there will be a cell demand of 150-gigawatt hours (GWh) per year for Europe. In Europe alone, six gigafactories with a total capacity of 240-gigawatt hours are to be built by the end of the decade to meet this demand. Part of meeting demand could be the joint battery factory with QuantumScape.
Salzgitter has already been accorded great importance in the previous plans. The unit cell for the volume segment will be produced in Salzgitter from 2025 and innovations in process, design, and chemistry will be developed. An expansion to up to 40 GWh per year is also planned for Salzgitter. This realignment will achieve better economies of scale and reduce production complexity.