The newly created Technology Board position will be responsible for the following focus areas: all activities of Volkswagen Group Components, the marketing of the Volkswagen platforms and components to third parties, the development, manufacturing and procurement of battery cells (Cell and Battery Strategy initiative), the areas of charging and energy with the corresponding joint ventures worldwide (Charging and Energy Services initiative).
The aim is further improvement of future viability and competitiveness through cross-brand management of technology activities and a value creation strategy coordinated throughout the Group. Synergies are to be leveraged across both traditional technologies and future areas to advance the transition to e-mobility.
The Volkswagen Group presented its technology roadmap for battery and charging until 2030 at its first Power Day in March 2021. The objective of the roadmap is to significantly reduce the complexity and cost of the battery so as to make electric vehicles attractive and affordable for as many people as possible. Volkswagen is establishing a European stock corporation (Société Européenne) to consolidate activities along the value chain for batteries – from processing raw materials to developing a unified Volkswagen battery cell to managing the European gigafactories. The company’s scope will also include new business models based around reusing discarded car batteries and recycling the valuable raw materials they contain. The Group is thus creating efficient and future-proof structures for the rapidly growing battery business.
By standardizing properties like format and geometry, the unified battery cell provides the basis for a competitive orientation of electric mobility at Volkswagen. There are plans to introduce unified battery cells in 2024. Six gigafactories will be required in Europe alone to meet our needs until 2030. Two of the six gigafactories planned for Europe have already been decided. In addition to the site of its partner Northvolt AB in Skellefteå, Sweden, Volkswagen is building its own gigafactory in Salzgitter.
One of the most modern laboratories for cell research and development in Europe was opened at the Salzgitter site in the second half of 2021. In the future, some 250 experts will conduct research in the areas of cell development, analytics and testing at a total of four laboratories. For the Volkswagen Group, Salzgitter is also a pioneer in sustainable responsibility throughout the service life of the battery and opened the Group’s first facility for recycling high-voltage vehicle batteries here. The objective is industrialized recovery of valuable raw materials such as lithium, nickel, manganese and cobalt in a closed loop, as well as aluminum, copper and plastic. In collaboration with partners, Volkswagen will achieve a recycling rate of more than 90 % percent in the future through mechanical and hydrometallurgical processes.
Volkswagen expanded its shareholdings in different companies again in 2021 within the framework of its electric mobility strategy. The primary transactions in the past fiscal year were the capital increase at Swedish battery partner Northvolt AB for continuing the stake of about 20 %. Volkswagen also increased its stake in QuantumScape with the goal of driving forward the joint development of solid-state battery technology. In the future, solid-state batteries are
expected to significantly increase range and shorten charging times further. The partnership with Gotion High-Tech Co., Ltd. was deepened in the reporting period on the basis of a substantial buy-in in May 2020. The Volkswagen Group entered a strategic cooperation framework with the major Chinese battery manufacturer headquartered at Hefei. The goal of both partners is to industrialize the planned battery cell production at the Salzgitter site.
Vertical integration, which is a strategic component of the newly created Board position, targets key success criteria of the electrification strategy, such as maximizing customer benefit, ensuring competitive cost structures and achieving transparency in the supply chain to safeguard channels critical for supply and crucial to sustainability.
In the current business model, overall responsibility for all input materials in the battery cell lies with the battery cell manufacturers. Volkswagen’s involvement in the supply chain gives it access to costs and capacity for the materials and raw materials needed for battery production, particularly for lithium, nickel, manganese and cobalt (vertical integration). The objective of intervening in the supply chain is to influence costs and capacity so as to maximize the benefit for the Company.
Charging and Energy
Since early 2021, all activities in the Charging and Energy area have been combined and managed by the Technology Board position, which will thus play a key role in the Group’s electric mobility strategy in its bid to become the leading provider of a smart charging and energy ecosystem.
As part of the Group’s strategic alignment, the Charging and Energy area is focusing on two key areas. Firstly, sales of electric vehicles are being underpinned by the international development of a widespread charging infrastructure. As part of the joint participation of our Group brands Volkswagen Passenger Cars, Audi and Porsche in the pan-European high power charging (HPC) joint venture IONITY, an extensive charging infrastructure is being developed to safeguard long-distance mobility, which already consisted of 1,586 charging points at the end of the reporting period. The number of public fast charging points in Europe is to be increased to 18,000 by 2025. At the same time, the charging network in North America is to be increased to 10,000 fast charging points in collaboration with Electrify America, while the charging network in China will be expanded to 17,000 fast charging points in conjunction with CAMS. Secondly, sustainable business models are being developed by expanding value creation, such as smart and energy market-integrated charging.
Drivetrain and Platform
The independent corporate entity Volkswagen Group Components, under the umbrella of Volkswagen AG, employs around 70 thousand people worldwide. The focus of their expertise is the development and manufacture of vehicle components. As part of the restructuring of Group Components, the former business unit structure was transferred to the Drivetrain and Platform area in a modified form as product lines (conventional powertrain, chassis and electric drivetrain) with effect from April 1, 2021. The product lines assume responsibility for product management and product costs across all locations, covering Volkswagen Group Components’ conventional portfolio.
Besides the product lines, the development areas of Group Components are combined in the Drivetrain and Platform area. The development portfolio focuses on the following areas: chassis components, steering systems, drive shafts, transmissions, electric drives and thermal management systems in the electric drivetrain. The new Systems and Innovation Development department, which was created when all components were bundled at organizational level, is working on the holistically optimized electric drivetrain across all business areas. Close integration of product management and development in the Drivetrain and Platform area are expected to optimize product costs, further sharpen the portfolio of Group Components and play a key role in shaping the electric drivetrain of the future.
Since January 1, 2021, Group-wide responsibility for external sales of platforms and components has been combined in the new Technology Board position. This effectively concentrates the existing activities and resources in one place in the Group. The scope of this new Platform Business organizational unit extends to successful initiation and acquisition (including contract design) as well as to support of customer projects including the related order processing (logistics, billing). In the current cooperation project with Ford, the necessary cross-brand structures and processes have been created within the Volkswagen organization so that other external customers can also be efficiently served in the future.