Bund promotes cell production: From zero to the world’s top battery manufacturer

Image result for Peter AltmaierPeter Altmaier (CDU) has very ambitious plans “I believe that we should aim to cover one third of the global demand for batteries with our own knowledge and from German and European production by 2030,” said the Federal Minister for Economic Affairs on Tuesday after talks with Maros Sefcovic, EU Energy Commissioner and Vice-President of the Commission, in Berlin. Both have agreed on a major project with numerous representatives from various industries: not only catching up Europe’s backlog in electromobility, but also closing the value-added chain with a multinational battery cell production and advancing to the top of the world market. For the promotion of production construction, the Federal Government will provide one billion euros from the budget of the Ministry of Economic Affairs until 2021. Sefcovic promised further funding from European funding.

Only Volkswagen needs four “Gigafactories”

One third of the world’s production of battery cells in twelve years – that’s an announcement. Volkswagen alone needs in 2025 a battery capacity of more than 150 gigawatt hours (GWh) per year, as the group announced on Tuesday. This corresponds according to VW information an annual capacity of at least four “Gigafactories” for battery cells. Altmaier said that there will be several factory locations in Germany and that three consortia are interested in setting up. He did not name his name, but details should be known only at the turn of the year.

VW also belongs to one of the consortia is open. Not coincidentally, shortly after Altmaier had presented his project in Berlin, the company announced that they had brought the battery cell manufacturer SK Innovation (SKI) from South Korea on board as another supplier. SKI is to complete the circle of the previous VW suppliers from LG Chem, Samsung (both South Korea) and CATL (China) . The philosophy of the carmaker is to buy the cheap and good cells in Asia and then to process them themselves. BMW and Daimler are doing the same. Bosch, the largest automotive supplier in the world, had called off an entry into cell production. Too expensive, they said. Bosch had calculated with investments of 20 billion euros. The competitor Continental keeps an entry open, but does not want to decide immediately.

Commissioner: We have to be quick

Altmaier and Sefcovic are too slow. Both pointed to the expected rapid development of electromobility in the coming years. If Germany as a location to stay competitive with its European neighbors must now be traded.