Volkswagen said it would invest $20.38 billion to build batteries for electric vehicles, a move the company says will create 20,000 jobs and generate $20.38 billion in annual sales. The automaker will create a new company called Power Co to oversee VW’s massive efforts to obtain sufficient capacity, materials and supplies to realize its EV ambitions.
Power Co will manage VW’s entire supply chain, from research and development of new technologies to raw material extraction to end-of-life recycling. The news was announced at a groundbreaking ceremony for the company’s first battery plant in Salzgitter, a town in Lower Saxony, Germany.
“The battery cell business is one of the cornerstones of our New Auto strategy that will make Volkswagen a leading provider of tomorrow’s sustainable, software-driven mobility,” said VW CEO Herbert Diess in a statement. “Setting up your own cell factory is technically and economically a mega project. It shows that we are bringing the leading technology of the future to Germany!”
Last year, VW unveiled plans to build six battery cell production plants in Europe by 2030, including the plant in Salzgitter and one in Skelleftea, Sweden. A third factory will be located in Valencia, Spain, and the fourth factory will be located in Eastern Europe. The company is also exploring plans to build future gigafactories in North America. The power stations will eventually have a production capacity of 240 gigawatt hours per year.
VW plans to roll out a new unified prismatic cell design of its batteries from 2023 that will be installed across all of the carmaker’s brands. The goal is to power up to 80 percent of VW’s electric vehicles by 2030 through this unified cell design. VW also has contracts with two other major battery makers, Samsung and CATL. And the company is backing a San Jose, California-based startup, QuantumScape, which is working on more energy-efficient solid-state batteries.
VW isn’t the only automaker seeing vertical integration as an important part of electric vehicle success. Ford is building three new battery plants that it says will have a production capacity of 129 GWh per year. General Motors, together with LG Chem, are planning four new battery plants in the US for a total annual capacity of 140 GWh. Stellantis is building a $2.5 billion battery plant in Indiana, and Hyundai and Toyota have also announced plans to manufacture cells in the US.
VW, the world’s second largest automaker by volume, has faced headwinds in the shift to electric vehicles. Diess recently said the company was “basically sold out of electric vehicles in Europe and in the United States for the year,” meaning anyone hoping to get an EV from VW, Audi or any of the group’s other brands should may have to wait until 2023 as the company tries to deal with the chip shortage and manufacturing problems caused by COVID shutdowns in China.