Volkswagen and Bosch look to industrialise manufacturing processes for battery cells

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Signing on January 17, 2022: (front row, l.to r.) Thomas Schmall, Volkswagen Group Board Member for Technology; Frank Blome, Head of Battery Volkswagen Group, Sebastian Wolf, Head of Operations Battery Cell Volkswagen Group. (back row, l. to r.) Günter Krenz, General Manager Bosch Manufacturing Solutions, Rolf Najork, Member of the Board of Management, Robert Bosch GmbH, Aemen Bouafif, Assistant to the Bosch Board of Management.

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The Volkswagen Group and the Bosch Group have signed a memorandum of understanding to explore the establishment of a European battery equipment solution provider that can supply the entire range of processes and components needed for the large-scale manufacture of battery cells and systems.

Demand for battery technologies is increasing exponentially – in Europe alone, various companies plan to build cell factories with a total yearly capacity of around 700 gigawatt-hours by 2030, while the Volkswagen Group itself plans to build six cell factories in that timeframe. With Asian countries – China in particular –  and the US leading the way in global lithium cell manufacturing capacity, European companies are increasingly aware of the need to offer more local solutions, not least as a step towards the objective of carbon-neutral mobility.

A project unit has been formed with the target of preparing the establishment of the new company by the end of 2022. The two companies plan to supply integrated battery production systems as well as on-site ramp-up and maintenance support for battery cell and system manufacturers. 

The companies are aiming for cost and technology leadership in the industrialisation of battery technology and the volume production of sustainable, cutting-edge batteries by drawing on complementary areas of expertise: While Volkswagen is an accomplished at-scale automaker and is on its way to becoming a major battery cell manufacturer, Bosch has excellent know-how in factory automation and systems integration.

“Europe has the unique chance to become a global battery powerhouse in the years to come,” commented Thomas Schmall, Member of the Board of Management of Volkswagen Group in charge of Technology and CEO of Volkswagen Group Components, speaking at the signing of the memorandum of understanding on January 17. “There is a strong and growing demand for all aspects of battery production, including the equipment of new gigafactories.” 

“Volkswagen and Bosch will explore opportunities to develop and shape this novel, multibillion-euro industry in Europe. Our decision to actively engage in the vertical integration of the battery-making value chain will tap considerable new profit pools. Setting out to establish a fully localised European supply chain for e-mobility made in Europe certainly marks a rare opportunity in business history,” he added.

Rolf Najork, Member of the Board of Management of Robert Bosch Group and Chairman of the Executive Board of Bosch Rexroth added: “Together with Volkswagen, we seek a path to industrialise production processes for battery cells with standardised equipment. We have the best prerequisites for this: Bosch is not only the world’s biggest automotive supplier, but also one of the leading suppliers of factory equipment. We understand how battery technology works, and know how to manufacture it.” 

“With more than 135 years of automotive experience and our proven industrialisation expertise, we want to serve the growing demand for batteries. European industry has the potential to become a technology driver for the ecological transformation of the economy.”