The EV revolution is happening, but everyone is worried that Chinese companies will control the battery supply. Joe Biden is proposing a major policy initiative to support the construction of more battery factories in the US, and the German government is pressuring companies to seek battery suppliers located in Germany.
According to US News and World Report, Porsche has entered into a joint venture with German battery startup Customcells, which is located near the Porsche headquarters. The deal is a little like Volkswagen’s link up with Quantumscape in the US. Every manufacturer wants batteries with higher energy density, faster charging characteristic, and lower cost. Quantumscape may provide them or Customcells may provide them, but Volkswagen intends to be the firstest with the mostest when it comes to bringing competitive electric cars to market.
Volkswagen’s luxury sports car unit Porsche AG is setting up a joint venture with Customcells to produce high-performance batteries that will significantly reduce charging times, the company said on Sunday. Customcells says it has the higher energy density part of the equation covered. Porsche is investing around €20 million in Customcells and will own an 80% share of the joint venture.
In addition to cutting charging time, improving energy density will mean reducing the amount of raw material needed in batteries to achieve the same range. It will also cut battery production costs, making electric cars more affordable, US News reports.
In April, Porsche CEO Oliver Blume said his company wants to speed up its e-mobility drive by establishing a German battery factory in Tuebingen. It just so happens that Customcells is located in Tuebingen.
Now don’t get too excited. The new production facility has a target capacity of just 100 kilowatt hours worth of batteries a year — about enough batteries for 1,000 cars. Clearly this is a “proof of concept” designed to see if Customcells and Porsche can make the leap from laboratory to commercial scale production. If it does, the advanced battery technology will filter down to other electric cars manufactured by Volkswagen Group, which has said it plans to build half a dozen battery cell plants across Europe.
Volvo & Northvolt Plan 50 GWh Battery Factory
Volvo is also interested in next generation batteries for electric cars. In a recent press release, it says it will enter into a 50/50 joint venture with Northvolt to develop next-generation, state of the art battery cells and vehicle integration technologies specifically for use in Volvo and Polestar cars.
The plan between the two companies calls for a factory with a potential capacity of 50 GWh of batteries a year. Production is scheduled to start in 2026. Volvo will also source 15 GWh of battery cells per year from the existing Northvolt Ett factory in Sweden starting in 2024. Volvo expects half of its sales to be battery electric cars by the middle of this decade. By the time 2030 rolls around, it expects to sell electric cars exclusively.
“By working with Northvolt, we will secure a supply of high quality, more sustainable battery cells for our pure electric cars,” says Håkan Samuelsson, CEO of the Volvo Car Group. “Working closely with Northvolt will also allow us to strengthen our in-house development capabilities.”
The new factory will be powered by 100% clean energy and is expected to employ up to 3,000 workers. Its exact location has yet to be decided. The first car to feature battery cells developed through the joint venture will be the electric successor to Volvo ‘s XC60, the bestselling car in its model lineup. Volvo will reveal more details at its Volvo Cars Tech Moment scheduled for June 30.
“Developing the next generation of battery cell technology in-house, together with Northvolt, will allow us to design batteries specifically for Volvo and Polestar drivers,” says Henrik Green, chief technology officer at Volvo Cars. “With cells developed in-house for our electric cars, we can focus on giving Volvo and Polestar customers what they want, such as range and short charging times.”