Mercedes and Volkswagen ramp-up battery factory plans
Battery factories are springing up everywhere. As more and more automakers are offering battery-powered models, they have to decide whether to purchase the battery cells they need from suppliers or to manufacture them themselves.
When Dieter Zetsche was running the business at Daimler, he believed very much that the suppliers should do what they do best because it was simply too expensive for his company to manufacture their own battery cells. But things have changed since the famous mustachioed Zetsche left the C-Suite in Stuttgart.
New CEO Ola Kaellenius announced this week that Mercedes has acquired a 33 percent stake worth $ 1.2 billion in battery cell maker Automotive Cells Company. Stellantis – which Fiat Chrysler now belongs to while it was once part of the Daimler empire – owns a third of ACC. Stellantis comprises the PSA group of companies – Peugeot, Citroen, DS, Opel and Vauxhall. The remaining third is owned by the French company TotalEnergies. It is the parent company of Saft, the European battery technology company that pioneered solid-state batteries.
Corresponding Automotive news Europe, says Kaellenius, the purpose of the partnership is to develop cells and battery modules and to help keep Europe at the center of the auto industry in the electric age. The ACC plants are expected to start supplying Mercedes from 2025.
ACC originally wanted to produce 48 GWh batteries in two factories, but now aims to achieve at least 120 GWh by 2030. Daimler will hold two of the six seats on the battery manufacturer’s board of directors. The companies will work together to develop battery technology, including anode and solid state batteries with high silicon content. (Note how any company seems to expect solid-state batteries to start powering their electric cars in 2025 or shortly thereafter.)
“Our focus is on Europe,” said Kallenius at a press conference. “This is where ACC wants to grow, expand and develop technologies with us. Together with ACC, we will develop and efficiently produce battery cells and modules in Europe – tailored to the specific requirements of Mercedes-Benz. This new partnership enables us to secure supplies and use economies of scale. “
Daimler announced in July that it would go “all-electric” by 2030 but added “when market conditions permit,” which is a pretty big escape route if things don’t go as planned. ACC’s first new battery factory in northern France is scheduled to start production in 2023. A second factory in Kaiserslautern, Germany, is scheduled to go online in 2025.
Volkswagen battery factory in China
Also this week, Volkswagen announced a new battery factory in Hefei, China. The new production facility will supply over 150,000 battery systems annually for Volkswagen Anhui, the former JAC Volkswagen joint venture. It will be the German company’s first majority-owned joint venture for electric vehicles in China.
The 45,000 square meter facility is scheduled to start production in the second half of 2023. It will have an annual capacity of up to 180,000 battery systems for vehicles based on the MEB electric car platform. Production is scheduled to begin in the nearby Volkswagen assembly plant in Anhui that same year.
“With a significant increase in battery-electric vehicles in the future, we will have to concentrate on keeping key components such as battery systems in our own value chain in order to leverage group-wide synergies and innovations. In addition to our two strong joint ventures, Volkswagen Anhui and VW Anhui Components Company are of crucial importance for our electrification strategy and to achieve our goal of the Volkswagen Group China fleet reaching over 40% NEVs by 2030, ”says Stephan Wöllenstein, CEO of Volkswagen Group China.
The Volkswagen Group is currently building three new production facilities for MEB batteries – one in China, another in Mlada Boleslav in the Czech Republic and a third in the USA near their plant in Chattanooga.
Take that away
Mercedes seems to be hedging its bets a bit by getting a stake in a European battery maker, but Volkswagen continues to push its EV agenda as aggressively as possible to become the world’s largest maker of electric vehicles.
Do you value the originality of CleanTechnica? Consider becoming a CleanTechnica member, supporter, technician, or ambassador – or a patron on Patreon.