VW Expands EV Offensive with Plans for Six Battery Factories

  • Volkswagen announced its plan to build six battery factories in Europe, each with a capacity of 40 gigawatt-hours, at its livestreamed “Power Day” event.
  • All of the factories will be in operation by 2030, with the first one up and running by 2023. They’re part of Volkswagen’s plan to gain more control of its EV supply chain.
  • VW also outlined plans to make batteries cheaper, reducing EVs’ costs by 30 percent or more, and to recycle 95 percent of components in its batteries.

    Volkswagen has been clear about its goal of leading in electrification, and at a livestreamed Power Day event earlier today, the automaker revealed the latest part of its plan to do so: building six new battery factories across Europe. The plants, VW says, will all be in operation by 2030 and will each have a capacity of 40 gigawatt-hours. For comparison, Tesla claims that its Nevada Gigafactory 1 has an annualized 35-GWh rate. VW also said it is developing a way to recycle nearly all of its battery components and to cut the price of electric vehicles by 30 to 50 percent.

    At the event, VW also said that it plans to invest in its charging networks around the world, including building another 3500 Electrify America fast chargers in North America in 2021 along with increasing the number of charging stations from 560 to 800. In Europe, VW said, it is going to increase the number of chargers in operates by five times, to 18,000 total chargers. It also plans a major expansion in China.

    The building of battery factories is part of VW’s plan to gain more control over its supply chain. The first VW gigafactory to reach the 40-GWh capacity is in Sweden and will be operated alongside Northvolt, a battery developer. The second will be in Germany and operated by Volkswagen itself; the automaker is looking for partners for the other four factories, including one to be located in Eastern Europe and one in France or Spain.

    The factories will help VW achieve its goal of producing one million electric vehicles a year by 2023 and 1.5 million a year by 2025. By 2030, the German automaker aims for fully electric vehicles to reach 50 percent of its sales in North America.

    Tesla currently operates a battery factory in Nevada with its partner Panasonic, and General Motors is building a battery factory in Ohio alongside LG Chem. Tesla’s Nevada plant has a capacity of 35 gigawatt-hours, and GM’s plant is slated to have a capacity of 30 gigawatt-hours.

    At the Power Day event, Volkswagen laid out plans for a new battery cell it calls a unified cell. The new design, VW says, will allow it to reduce costs for entry-level electric vehicles by 50 percent and for its mainstream vehicles up to 30 percent. Thomas Schmall, CEO of Volkswagen Group Components, said in a statement that the cost of the batteries will be brought down below about $119 per kilowatt-hour.

    VW also outlined plans beyond the battery production during the event, showing off its method of recycling batteries—in a process that VW claims reuses 95 percent of the battery—as well as its bidirectional charging capabilities. VW said that its vehicles will be ready for bidirectional charging, or using your car’s battery to power electronics in your home, by 2022 using a bidirectional wall box. VW outlined such plans in 2020, but the timeline for the rollout wasn’t clear.

    The automaker did not announce any new vehicles at the event.

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