Volkswagen is launching a ‘global battery offensive’ with a giant new cell factory

The Volkswagen Group just broke ground on a major new facility in Germany.
A battery cell. Volkswagen AG

Electric vehicles require batteries to help them zip down the road. Those batteries consist of a multitude of individual cells that together form a battery system. Today, in Salzgitter, Germany, the Volkswagen Group broke ground on a new factory that will crank out those cells, someday producing enough of the powerpack units for around 500,000 vehicles every year. Production is set to begin in 2025.

In fact, this factory is just the beginning of what the corporation calls, in a press release, its “global battery offensive.” While a VW battery cell factory already exists in Skellefteå, Sweden, four more planned factories will follow a similar setup as the new one in Salzgitter, which will act as a type of blueprint. After this facility in Salzgitter, the next one is planned for Valencia, Spain; there will be a total of a half-dozen factories in Europe alone by 2030. 

The location of the new factory in Salzgitter, Germany. Volkswagen AG

The cells that these factories will produce, which the VW Group describes as a “prismatic unified cell,” will one day be able to power as much as 80 percent of the different vehicle models that the company makes. This prismatic design is different from the shapes other EV battery cells typically take—cylinders and pouches. The battery producers at these factories will be able to tweak the chemistries of the cells to best suit the vehicles they are going into. With this general approach should come cost savings, too. “The new unified cell harnesses synergy effects and will reduce battery costs by up to 50 percent,” the company said in a statement

[Related: How the massive ‘flow battery’ coming to an Army facility in Colorado will work]

A new company, called PowerCo, will take the reins of the battery production machine. “PowerCo will become a global battery player,” Thomas Schmall, the supervisory board chairman of PowerCo, said in the statement. “The company’s major strength will be vertical integration from raw materials and the cell right through to recycling.” 

The Volkswagen Group includes brands such as Volkswagen, Audi, and Porsche. Volkswagen, for example, recently announced a new electric sedan concept car, the ID Aero. In addition to other EVs, like the ID Buzz, VW also makes the ID 4, which it will also start producing in the US, in Tennessee. While the VW Group plans a total of six battery factories in Europe, the company also says that there is the “​​prospect of further factories in North America in the future.” 

Meanwhile, here’s what Stellantis, General Motors, and others are up to when it comes to producing batteries for electric vehicles.