The Technology Board position is 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 technology initiative), and all topics relating to charging and energy for the Group worldwide (Charging and Energy Services technology 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 formalized its objectives for battery and charging for 2030 in its technology roadmap. With the battery roadmap we aim to significantly reduce the complexity and cost of this key component so as to make electric vehicles attractive and affordable for as many people as possible.
In 2022, Volkswagen founded the battery company PowerCo SE that will be responsible for the Group’s global battery activities. From the new European battery hub in Salzgitter, this company will manage the development of international factory operations, continuous development of cell technology, vertical integration of the value chain and supplies of machinery and equipment to factories. Other products such as large-scale storage systems for the energy grid are planned for further down the line.
At the ceremony for laying the foundation stone for the Group’s first battery cell factory in Salzgitter, which is due to start production in 2025, PowerCo presented two key concepts with which it intends to set industry standards in the future. One is the unified battery cell, which allows flexible use of many different chemical elements and is to be fitted in up to 80% of all Group models. The second key concept is the standard factory, which aims to enable the rapid rollout of in-house production with standardized buildings, equipment, IT and infrastructure and will thus be able to be adapted quickly and flexibly to future innovations.
A second cell factory will be built in Valencia, Spain and possible locations for three more cell factories in Europe are currently being explored. PowerCo is already conducting a site search for further gigafactories in North America as well. Each factory is to operate solely on renewable power and be designed for future closed-loop recycling. In addition to the cell manufacturer PowerCo, a center of excellence has also been established, whose responsibilities include Group-wide product management for battery cells and battery systems, the development of battery systems and supplier quality.
Vertical integration of value creation is one of the main components of the battery strategy. By building up its own cell production, Volkswagen will progressively take charge of further stages of the value chain so that it can exercise greater influence over the availability, cost and sustainability of key raw materials and other items. Examples include a long-term supply agreement with Vulcan Energy Resources for carbon-neutral lithium from the Rhine Rift Valley and a memorandum of understanding with the Canadian government for accelerating the development of sustainable, regional raw material supply chains in North America.
Cathode materials have a key role to play in the transformation to e-mobility as a major cost factor and one of the main components in batteries. PowerCo and the Belgian materials technology group Umicore have formed a joint venture that aims to supply cathode and primary materials to the European cell factories starting in 2025. The partners aim to be producing materials for 160 GWh of cell capacity per year by the end of the decade.
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. With a joint participation of our Group brands Volkswagen Passenger Cars, Audi and Porsche in the pan-European high power charging (HPC) joint venture IONITY, the Ewiva joint venture in Italy formed by Volkswagen and Enel and other partnerships, an extensive charging infrastructure is being developed to safeguard mobility. 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 is planned to 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. The Group acts as a vehicle charging subscription provider in Europe with its charging and energy brand Elli. This proprietary charging service gives customers with any electric vehicle access to some 450,000 charging points with approximately 20,000 fast chargers operated by around 800 providers across 27 countries. In addition, Elli’s product portfolio also includes the full range of charging solutions for private customers and companies, from the Company’s own wallboxes to flexible fast-charging stations and smart green electricity tariffs.
Drivetrain and Platform
The independent corporate entity Volkswagen Group Components, under the umbrella of Volkswagen AG, employs around 70,000 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 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.
Group-wide responsibility for external sales of platforms and components has been combined in the Technology Board position. The scope of this 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 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. Expansion of the cooperation with Ford was agreed in 2022. The automaker aims to manufacture around 1.2 million vehicles based on the MEB – double the volume of prior arrangements. Volkswagen is also exploring a supply agreement with Indian automaker Mahindra for MEB components such as electric motors and battery systems.