German vehicle OEM Volkswagen is moving to a NMC 811 cell format in its electric vehicle battery packs with the “medium to long term” goal of one day producing cobalt free cells.
The company is following Tesla’s lead in moving to the NMC 811 cell format, which VW’s China battery supplier CATL believes gives better performance capabilities over its previous NCM 523 cells.
VW’s next generation of cells will contain 80% nickel, 10% cobalt and 10% manganese, Frank Blome, head of battery cells at VW, is reported as saying by news outlet Reuters. The company’s packs currently contain 65% nickel, 15% cobalt and 20% manganese.
A VW spokesman told BEST: “We are working to systematically reduce the content of cobalt in our batteries with the goal of making the batteries cobalt-free over the medium to long term.
“Access to essential raw materials, such as lithium, cobalt and nickel, is crucial to the success of electric mobility. In addition to adequate availability, crucial factors also include price stability and sustainable mining.
“Obtaining raw materials under environmentally friendly conditions is key to customers’ acceptance of the end product. Volkswagen is continually increasing transparency, for example by checking upstream supply structures with specialist audit companies.”
The spokesman added: “With its external partnerships, Volkswagen is already preparing for the next future stage of battery technology— the solid-state battery. Our aim is to industrialise this technology.”
VW is carrying out its own lithium-ion battery cell production with a focus on advanced development of battery technology.
For its upcoming MEB (modular electric propulsion platform) models VW is working with its strategic battery cells suppliers LG Chem and SKI for Europe and CATL for China. SKI will also supply VW with battery cells for the US market.
The VW spokesman said: “In addition to our own battery cell production, these four existing partners and a number of new partners in China and Korea will form the foundation for a stable and successful global supply chain for batteries. In addition, we are investing more than one billion euros in our own battery cell activities in Salzgitter.”
Tesla has been looking to cut its reliance on cobalt-based batteries for a while, and last September announced it would be sourcing its NCM battery cells from LG, which had convinced them to switch to NCM 811 batteries based on the longer driving distances per charge.