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Battery market heats up with Porsche-Customcell partnership

Written by Theo Koenig – June 22, 2021

Reviewed by Asaf Kedem

With European auto manufacturers looking to expand their electric vehicle selection, the threat of overreliance on a dominant Chinese battery market is greater than ever. In an effort to curtail the dependence on a foreign market, many European automotive giants have turned to creating new battery factories in their home countries. Porsche AG, part of the Volkswagen Group, have announced a joint partnership venture with Customcells to develop high performance battery cells for their motorsport collection.

The news come amid an incredible financial year 2020 for the Porsche AG, whose value increased by 100 million from the previous year to reach a record €28.7 billion. With the company seeking to reach overall carbon neutrality by 2030, its investments into the electric sector are coming from a clear position of strength.

The joint venture between the two companies will seek to create a new high-performance cell based on silicon. According to Porsche, the new chemistry of the battery will reduce the internal resistance of the cell, yielding many potential advantages. The biggest being the battery can now absorb more energy while recharging, thereby improving the performance during fast charging. The new batteries should be charged in less than 15 minutes. Meanwhile, charging from 5% to 80% currently takes an impressive 22.5 minutes on the Porsche Taycan. Moreover, less internal resistance means less heat, which is critically important for the motorsport branch. Though this may come at the cost of resistance to sub-zero temperatures and stability over many charging cycles, the cell will be far better at withstanding high temperatures – a key element on the racetrack. BASF has been chosen as a cell-development partner to provide the cathode materials.

Beyond the batteries themselves, the partnership seeks to open its own battery factory. The partnership between Porsche and Customcells will be headquartered in Tübingen, Germany. Incidentally, it is rumoured that the partnership will seek to build its 100 MWh factory in Tübigen, allowing for the production of 1000 high-performance batteries annually.

According to Porsche, who have an 83.75% stake in the partnership, developing the most powerful battery requires building a competitive value chain for lithium-ion batteries. However, rather than outsource to battery giants such as CATL, the partnership seeks to base its designs on inhouse technology based on innovative and sustainable technologies.

Customcells, founded in 2012, develop application-specific battery cells made in Germany. From small- to medium-series of special lithium-ion batteries, the company operates in many different markets, including aviation and shipping. The company is now owned by the parent corporation Cellforce GmbH.

Auto Trendy’ take:

The Volkswagen Group have announced their intention to build 12 battery factories in Europe. This announcement between Porsche (parent company: VW) and Customcells makes it the second announcement in as many weeks for the Volkswagen Group and their intent to open battery factories. Make no mistake, China is still the dominant player in the market, and will be for the foreseeable future. In fact, while Porsche and Customcells plan for a 100MWh plant, CATL have already announced plans to reach annual production levels of nearly 500GWh for a single factory by 2025. In truth, the intent behind this move and those of other European automakers is probably not to overtake the Chinese market, but rather to avoid a heavy dependence on the area. Nevertheless, the tide is beginning to turn, and it’s doing so quickly.

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