In Effort To Slash Costs, Volkswagen Seeks Single Battery Design For All Its Electric Cars

MAY 8 2015 BY MARK KANE 26

Audi A3 Sportback e-tron

Audi A3 Sportback e-tron

Volkswagen intends to develop a single lithium-ion battery cell design, which would fit into all of the plug-in cars made by the VW Group.

We believe that Volkswagen is referring to geometrical dimensions and maybe general type with universal modules and battery management system, because cell chemistry still could be unique to different suppliers and applications (high energy for BEVs and high power for PHEVs).

For now Volkswagen uses Panasonic batteries in e-up!, e-Golf, Golf GTE and Audi A3 Sportback e-tron. Samsung will supply cells for the upcoming Volkswagen Passat GTE and new Audi models.

Standardization of cell design over many models could bring overall costs down. The target is for 66% reduced costs, but we are not sure at what level (Only costs of design? Or whole modules?).

¬†“the group is targeting a 66 percent cost reduction with a design that would be packaged into modules customized for each vehicle.”

“A single design would enable greater utilization of the group’s battery module assembly plant in Braunschweig, Germany. Multiple suppliers could be used to source the single cell design, a spokesman said.”

Heinz-Jakob Neusser, VW’s board member in charge of development, said:

“We have a clear understanding in the group of a common cell. That means each member of the group, each brand, uses the same cell. Otherwise, we cannot get the synergies out of this development.”

Source: Automotive News

Categories: Volkswagen


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26 Comments on "In Effort To Slash Costs, Volkswagen Seeks Single Battery Design For All Its Electric Cars"

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Not a good strategy. At this point betting on a chemistry and format is risky because all that could change with a breakthrough, and we’re likely to see some in the next five years.

The idea certainly is not new. GM is already doing something like this by using Voltec and the same cells in BEVs and EREVs as well as Voltec in its hybrids, and Tesla does this by using the same cells in vehicles, super chargers, and now home battery systems. It’s just hard to see how the risks and benefits favor the approach across the entire portfolio.

I dunno you have to draw a line in the sand somewhere, can’t keep waiting for “5 years”. And as long as you can adapt, the risk is minimal.

Exactly. As long as they’re VERY meticulous about engineering the interfaces between cells and modules, modules and packs, and packs and the car, they can reduce their exposure to innovation whiplash, which we all know is coming in this field.

Yes, decisions have to be made to enable production. Besides, once it’s shipped it’s gone and won’t be seen again until parts replacement, which is usually generational only for a long life product like a car (ie no upgrades).

The GM approach of common cells, which includes common fin cooling and related parts provides economies of scale, plus some flexibility to rack & stack differently at the pack level.

Sounds like VW wants to standardize at a higher level, which should provide some incremental economies. GM can’t really do that right now with their pack variations (like T-packs on the Volt only), but I’m sure most manufacturers will eventually want to take a common pack path, if possible.

No, it sounds to me that VW Group wants to do what GM is doing – use the same cells in different pack configurations.

That’s the way I read it too. Unfortunately the meaning is not at all clear, so we could both be wrong.

I think this is standardization of the cell form factor, module form-factor, and pack form-factor rather than standardization on a specific chemistry. You can always adjust to different chemistries with your motor controller and charger.

All I retained from the article was 66% target cost reduction.

“We believe that Volkswagen is referring to geometrical dimensions and maybe general type with universal modules and battery management system, because cell chemistry still could be unique to different suppliers and applications (high energy for BEVs and high power for PHEVs).”

Or maybe they will use cells which are both high power and high volumetric energy density, as Tesla does with its Panasonic cells. That would achieve the stated goal, which is to use the same cell in all “vehicles”, by which I guess they mean all plug-in EVs.

Good to see Volkswagen taking strides in advancing its EV tech, after refusing to jump on the EV bandwagon for so many years. Who knows? Maybe it’s not too late for them to catch up sufficiently to survive the rEVolution after all. This is, after all, a rather slow-moving tech revolution.

As far C rate goes, Tesla’s battery packs doesn’t go up nearly as high as some of PHEV packs…

I think that regarding battery GM and Renault won the bet by choosing LG Chem. They keep improving the energy density and dropping the price. We can see this with new versions of Chevrolet Volt and Renault Zoe.

Well, the fact that Nissan is abandoning (or at least greatly reducing) their own battery cell manufacturing in favor of buying cells for the Leaf from LG Chem, certainly indicates you’re right. Presumably the reason for that is a significantly lower price per kWh from LG Chem.

But perhaps right only in terms of the price of batteries. In terms of supply, it’s not so great. Nissan found the battery factory in Japan was not sufficient to supply the Leaf, so built two more, in Tennessee and the UK. But now they’ve put themselves into the position of making their future Leaf production dependent on supply by a third party. Not good for future growth. I hope the deal with LG Chem is temporary, and that Nissan will move back to making their own battery cells, once they figure out how to match (or at least approach) the low cost of LG Chem’s latest cells.

I think another possibility is that LG buys out the NEC/Nissan joint venture and expands it capacity that way. If NEC/Nissan were able to be competitive on price they should have already been able to do so given their volumes I’m not confident that will change in the future.

I agree NEC/Nissan won’t be able to bring the price down substantially unless and until they’re willing to do what Tesla (and perhaps BYD) are doing: Invest billions in building one or more very large-scale battery factories to supply their own cars. But sooner or later, every auto maker which is actually serious about making 150+ mile EVs in large numbers is going to have to ensure its own supply of battery cells, either by exclusive partnership (like Panasonic and Tesla) or by building out its own very large battery factory/factories.

An EV maker being dependent on a third party to supply battery cells is in as bad a business situation as an ICE vehicle manufacturer dependent on a third party to build its engines. That just doesn’t happen for any major line of gas guzzlers, for pretty obvious business reasons.

They better not marry themselves in a big way to one chemistry or they are going to be sorry. EEStor is still alive for one thing (I’m not kidding so don’t snicker!).

Could VW be hinting that QS has a winning tech and they will be standardizing around that technology soon??!

Nah, they’re holding out for that perpetual motion machine to power their cars. If you’re gonna pin your hopes on junk “science”, Fibb, why stop at halfway measures?

who you calling junk science lensman? EEStor or QS or both? It’s very unclear from your snotty post.

BTW why don’t you come visit sometime. WT and TB just had dinner with IC the day before yesterday. I’ll tell you all about it.

Eventually ‘all vehicles’ will mean exactly that. All will need some form of pack to manage energy and enable stop-start.

Locking yourself into a form-factor may be a mistake. What happens if the newest solid-state super-battery cannot be made in that factor or voltage?

For things like DeWalt tools, they make the battery form-factor fit into an existing interface design. I have nickel-cadmium, nickel-metal-hydride, and lithium-ion 18v packs that fit all my tools interchangeably.

But they all require different chargers… =)

No form factor or chemistry is incompatible with a definite packaging form.
At least, most of what I know about those available option so far.
The inside construction including the BMS of the pack might as well be totally different, the dimensional aspect and final output caracteristic is most probably adaptable to match what it’s needed.

That was an answer to Loboc.

There was a time, early in the motorcar revolution, when electric cars, gas-powered cars, and steam cars were all being sold, and it wasn’t clear which tech would win out. Arguing that VW shouldn’t “commit itself” to just one battery type is like arguing that Ford shouldn’t have committed itself to the gasoline engine for the Model T. If there is one tech which is clearly better than the others for your purpose, then you should definitely go “all in” and develop that tech, excluding the others. It’s true that eventually better batteries will come along. Since the first generation EV1, we’ve already seen advancements: lead-acid –> NiMH — lithium ion –> lithium polymer, and some prototype EVs even used NiCad batteries. We won’t be using lithium-ion forever, and the next “quantum leap” advancement will likely come along within a few years. When something comes along which is clearly better for storing electricity in EVs, then everybody will start using that. But that’s no reason not to use the best that’s available right now. The next breakthru may well come out of some tiny startup or university lab, so using a scattershot approach to building batteries using different existing chemistries… Read more »

Wow, 66% cost reduction would be very very good. Specially since we’re not talking about some new battery made of unobtainium.

VW wisely sees costs have to come down for widespread adoption of EVs.

RIght now, the batteries are too small and they cost too much, and the only work around is either a PHEV or EREV to keep the costs manageable.

So I understand their Synergies comment.

Yes I have a roadster, but it will be better when the avg person can afford its 53 kwh battery. Right now its of limited appeal.

This is what will need to happen (at a wide scale) in order for battery swapping to become credibly plausible as a refuel method. Right now, it is nothing more than a gimmick.

A lot of us think battery swapping will never be more than a gimmick, even though Tesla demonstrated it I think their Supercharges make it unnecessary. I really want to stop for 30-40 min. once I have driven 200+ miles.