VW Group establishes European company for its battery business

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Volkswagen Group has created a European company (Société Européenne) to consolidate its battery activities, from processing raw materials to managing its European gigafactories. Société Européenne’s scope will include new business models based around reusing discarded car batteries and recycling the valuable raw materials they contain.

Thomas Schmall, member of the board of management for technology at Volkswagen AG and CEO of Volkswagen Group Components, said, “We are now bundling our power in Salzgitter [Germany], with the aim of encouraging innovation and securing the support of the best partners for our new company going forward. We already have a strong battery team in Salzgitter made up of 500 employees from 24 countries, and we are continuing to strengthen this team at leadership level.”

Under the management of VW Group Components’ head of battery cell and system business unit Frank Blome, Soonho Ahn will play a leading role in the development of battery cells. Ahn has previously worked at LG and Samsung; his most recent post was global head of battery development at Apple.

Volkswagen is planning to establish six gigafactories in Europe to cover the growing demand for battery cells within the group. Cell production in Salzgitter is set to start in 2025. This site will produce unified battery cells for Volkswagen Group’s volume segment. In its initial phase, the factory will have an annual capacity of 20gWh before eventually reaching 40gWh.

The Salzgitter facility will also bring development, planning and production control under one roof, thus becoming the group’s battery center. There are plans to build additional gigafactories at sites in Spain and Eastern Europe. The exact locations of gigafactories three and four are due to be decided in the first half of 2022. Volkswagen intends to open two more battery cell factories in Europe by 2030.

Parallel to the development of these gigafactories, Swedish startup Northvolt AB – in which Volkswagen has a stake of around 20% – will build a further factory in Skellefteå in northern Sweden. This will produce battery cells for the premium automotive segment, starting in 2023.

Over the next five years, VW Group plans to invest around €52bn in the development and production of new electric vehicles. Its New Auto strategy involves the development of new business fields including batteries, charging and energy. In addition, the group is creating dedicated technology platforms that enable cross-brand synergies, including an SSP platform due to launch in 2026.

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Sam joined the UKi Media & Events automotive team in 2017. Having started out as assistant editor for a number of titles including Engine + Powertrain Technology International, Automotive Testing Technology International and Professional Motorsport World, he was appointed editor of E+PTI in 2020. Sam produces content for both the magazine and website.

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