Webasto, one of the most well-known automotive suppliers, recently expanded into the electric vehicle battery business taking advantage of its competencies in the core business of thermo management.
"Three years ago Webasto took the decision not only in future to further expand its core business in the area of roofs and heaters, but also to develop additional fields of business in the area of electromobility, with charging solutions and battery systems."
Through an investment of €11 million in a multi-product line, Webasto has started production of battery packs for an undisclosed European bus maker at its Schierling site in Germany.
Additionally, battery packs for electric commercial vehicles will be produced from 2020 at Hengersberg site in Germany, where Webasto invests €18 million.
The start from the bus and commercial vehicles sounds reasonable, as passenger car manufacturers are already implementing high-volume models and many are keeping their battery tech in-house.
Lithium-ion cells for the packs are supplied by Samsung SDI.
"The manufacture of battery packs for a European bus maker has already commenced at the company's Schierling site in the district of Regensburg. From the beginning of 2020 the company will furthermore manufacture its self-developed standard battery system for commercial vehicles there. For this purpose, Webasto has invested eleven million euro in a multi-product line. A further 18 million euro flowed into the establishment of a prototype construction and validation center at its Hengersberg site in the district of Deggendorf."
"Competencies in-place at existing production sites form the basis
As it established the development and production of its battery systems, Webasto benefited from the competencies within its core business. The company was, for instance, able to draw on its thermo management know how, its in-house electronics manufacturing and its experience in the installation of complex systems into vehicles – all of which are key success factors for the new field of business. Moreover, Webasto has also brought further electromobility experts into the company over the past three years.
Webasto is leveraging its established production network in order to manufacture battery systems for the European market: Roof systems have been produced in Schierling for over 30 years. Furthermore, the group’s competence center for lightweight construction technologies is also located at this site. Supplementing this, Webasto is now manufacturing battery systems at the same plant. Webasto has also developed its Hengersberg site with a view to producing innovative solutions for the field of electromobility. The competence center for convertible roofs has been expanded with a state-of-the-art testing and prototype construction facility for batteries. Employees at Hengersberg furthermore manufacture aluminum boxes for battery systems which are subsequently sent to the production location at Schierling. The cells for the Webasto standard battery are sourced from Samsung SDI – a Webasto partner in the field of battery systems since 2018."
Germany is just a first step for Webasto, which is now prepared to enter into the Chinese market in 2020:
"Entry into the Chinese market is in preparation. The development and manufacture of battery systems will – together with a roof production facility – be located at the new Webasto site in Jiaxing. It is planned to open this plant at the beginning of 2020.
Dr. Holger Engelmann, Chairman of the Management Board of Webasto SE emphasizes: