German Chancellor Angela Merkel was joined by a host of executives and dignitaries to celebrate the beginning of construction for the largest battery factory in Germany in Kamenz, 80 miles south of Berlin. She was joined by such notables as Dieter Zetsche, chairman of the board of Daimler, and Stanislaw Tillich, minister president of the state of Saxony.
“The automotive industry is facing a fundamental transformation and we see ourselves as the driving force behind this change,” said Zetsche. “The battery factory in Kamenz is an important component in the implementation of our electric offensive. By 2022, we will have more than ten purely electric passenger cars in series. We also continue to drive forward the hybridization of our fleet. Under the EQ brand, we are creating a holistic ecosystem for e-mobility.”
Daimler is investing €500,000,000 into the factory, which will assemble lithium-ion battery packs for Mercedes and Maybach automobiles as well as energy storage batteries. Daimler has entered into a partnership with Vivint Solar to market rooftop solar systems coupled to residential storage batteries.
According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, major battery factories are under construction in Poland, Hungary, and Sweden. Some European companies are seeking to offset the influence of Asian battery manufacturers such as Panasonic, LG Chem, and Samsung SDI, but some of these factories (like the LG Chem one in Poland) are actually from Asian giants moving into Europe more.
There are also 8 factories under construction in China.
Nikolas Soulopoulos. an analyst for Bloomberg LP in London, says battery manufacturing capacity is expected to double by 2021 and total 278 gigawatt-hours of production capacity then compared to 103 gigawatt-hours today. That will lower battery costs by as much as 43% and make the cost of electric cars comparable to or lower than conventional cars.
“As battery costs fall and their energy density increases, we could see cheaper battery-electric cars than their fuel-burning equivalents by 2030,” Soulopoulos says. He looks for battery prices to fall from an average of $273 per kilowatt-hour from to $156 per kilowatt-hour by 2020.
Here are a few more details on Daimler’s new battery factory: “The new production facility, which is situated approximately 50 kilometres from Dresden, is scheduled to go into operation in mid-2018. Covering an area of around 20 hectares, the site is in the direct vicinity of the existing battery factory. The new plant will quadruple the production and logistics area in Kamenz to a total of around 80,000 square meters. In the next few years ACCUMOTIVE will gradually increase the number of employees at the site. By the end of the decade, ACCUMOTIVE will have a total of over 1,000 employees and thus more than double the number compared to today’s level.”