Vehicle OEM Volkswagen Group has taken the first steps toward a large-scale lithium-ion battery production line with the opening of a pilot plant in Germany.
The pilot line for battery cell assembly has begun producing lithium-ion cells at VW’s Center of Excellence in Salzgitter, Lower-Saxony.
The plant will produce cells in test batches for research and development purposes. The company is also investigating solid-state technology in cooperation with the US company QuantumScape.
A statement by VW said: “The pilot line will build up process and manufacturing competences. In addition it will research and industrialise innovative manufacturing processes.
“This way, Volkswagen is creating an entry into cell production. Thanks to pilot assembly, it is possible to further deepen knowledge of the production processes in a very short time and under one’s own steam.”
VW is investing around €1 billion ($1.1 billion) to set up its own 16GWh battery cell factory in Sweden through a 50-50 joint venture with Northvolt.
Next year, the company will begin recycling 1,200 tons (around 3,000 vehicle batteries) per year at a pilot recycling plant in Salzgitter. The pilot will look at low cost and low CO2-emission recycling processes.
The plant will recycle materials such as nickel, manganese, cobalt as well as copper, steel and aluminum.
Volkswagen has a demand capacity of 150GWh in Europe and the same amount in Asia covered by supply contracts with strategic battery suppliers such as LG Chem and SKI for Europe and CATL for China. SKI will also supply the battery cells for VW’s US market.
The company statement read: “At present, there are only 20GWh of capacity available in Europe. This means that there is an enormous value creation potential for battery cell assembly in Europe, so that sufficient capacities are available.
“In addition, it makes no sense logistically or economically to supply large volumes for series production over long distances. Proximity to the production sites is crucial. But Volkswagen will also continue to work with its suppliers in the long-term to ensure a sufficient supply of battery cells.”