Asia concentrates 95% of the world’s battery production, strong investments are being made for electromobility in the US and the Volkswagen Group wants to be at the forefront of a transition that is revolutionizing the automotive sector. This was reasoned yesterday by Frank Blome, CEO of PowerCo, the subsidiary of the German group for the construction and management of electric battery factories, who added that “little by little we want to play an important role worldwide, and the Sagunt gigafactory is a fundamental piece of this strategy, we need to accelerate its implementation”. That is, not depend so much on Asia.
Storing renewable energy
The CEO of PowerCo indicated that the company is “absolutely” open to building other battery cells that are destined for renewable energy storage uses, beyond electric vehicles. In this sense, he has explained that when battery production starts, which is scheduled to start in 2026, there will be a period of time for approvals and tests before supplying vehicles “up to one year”, and that while cells can be allocated from batteries to stationary storage. “We have demand for that” and some actors have shown interest. This will take place soon, we will make some decisions and we will make them public, ”he advanced.
He said this at the day that was held yesterday in Salzgitter to show the Valencian delegation headed by President Ximo Puig the first phase of the cell factory that has been launched in this city together with the leadership of Volkswagen. “Competition from Asia is important, and the Salzgitter and Sagunt plants, the first two of the six that we are going to install in Europe, will allow us faster production and better economies of scale.” The works of the German factory began on July 7, 2022, and are a reference for the construction of the future Valencian plant, whose works are scheduled to begin in three months.
The manager stressed that 40% of the cost of the electric car is the battery. “We are facing a technological challenge because autonomy, acceleration and efficiency depend on the battery,” he added. In addition, he insisted that the price of energy “is essential for the company”, which is why it has opted to support the Valencian plant with renewable energy: “Spain offers many hours of wind and sun”, he highlighted.
Many young people from our group want to go to work in Sagunt, they point out from the group
Thomas Schmall, member of the Executive Committee of Volkswagen AG responsible for Technology and Chairman of the Board of Directors of PowerCo, also stressed that the company will eliminate combustion engines in the medium term, so the production of battery cells is “essential”. . “We have decided to accelerate electromobility, we need a lot of batteries and cells.” He valued that Sagunt’s “will be a very competitive plant; many young people in our group want to go to work there; We are very interested in the Valencia project. The Sagunt plant goes beyond Volkswagen, it is a matter of Europe.”
Sagunt, a clone of Slazgitter’s
The Salzgitter plant is currently undergoing an expansion and reconversion plan for the manufacture of combustion engines, to become the first cell plant of the German group in 2025 and will be the model for the Valencian gigafactory, whose start of production is scheduled by 2026. “Salzgitter will serve as a model for other plants, it will be a copy for the plant in Spain, and it will be produced with the same systems, they will be authorized in the same way and the same synergies will be used to be faster and faster,” he explained. Yesterday Frank Blome. The Valencian plant, which will supply the vehicle plants in Martorell and Pamplona, will also allocate batteries to energy storage, depending on the capacities that remain free in the automobile segment.
Javier Rivera, PowerCo Spain’s financial director, commented that the group had not studied the possibility of applying for Part 2 announced by the Spanish Government but the details of which are unknown. He did say that the group has made the decision of “massive investment” and that they are open to taking advantage of “regional incentives” to project new infrastructures.
Not just batteries for your cars
Another of the objectives is that the group’s battery cells are not only for their own vehicles, but also to supply other automotive manufacturers in the world and energy sectors. Frank Blome explained that the cells are suitable for cars, but also to store energy and it is a segment that is fixed, he even acknowledged the possibility of supplying other brands such as Ford at its Almussafes plant. The strategy is not to make compact batteries, but cells that are just over a foot long. For a Volkswagen electric car, about 200 will be needed, but they can be combined more or less depending on the needs.
For a Volkswagen electric car, about 200 cells will be needed, but they can be combined more or less depending on the needs
Ximo Puig took advantage of the visit to announce the purchase for 2.29 million euros of a plot in Parc Sagunt II of 16,000 square meters to install the future vocational training center that will serve to incorporate young students to the needs of jobs in PowerCo’s gigafactory. This center, which will be called Campus Battery, will offer training in the areas of electricity and electronics, installation and maintenance, and in various disciplines in the area of chemistry.
He also reported that the urbanization project for Parc Sagunt II is being drawn up, in the area where the Volkswagen Group gigfactory will be installed, which will involve an investment of more than 200 million euros. The works will be awarded in mid-May 2023 and will have an execution period of 24 months. The works of the access road to the Power Co. plot will also be tendered immediately.
The President was accompanied on the trip by the Minister of Finance, Arcadi España, the Minister of Economy, Rafa Climent, and the Minister of Territorial Policy and Public Works, Rebeca Torró.