Porsche and Custom Cells Itzehoe consider battery factory in Germany

According to a media report, Porsche and the Fraunhofer spin-off Custom Cells Itzehoe GmbH, Itzehoe, Germany, intend to build a battery cell factory in Tübingen, Germany. However, the EU approval, which would enable state funding.

According to Tagesspiegel Background and Electrive.com, citing industry circles, the cell manufacturer Custom Cells Itzehoe is to develop battery cells together with Porsche for the next generation of the VW subsidiary’s electric sports cars. The two partners have already founded the joint venture Cellforce Group for this purpose, and production will be located in Tübingen, south of Stuttgart.

An important approval from the EU is still to be obtained. The project is to be classified as an IPCEI project (Important Project of Common European Interest), which would enable state funding. So far, the IPCEI project has funded the planned battery cell production of the PSA subsidiary Opel in Kaiserslautern and the battery cell production of BMW in Parsdorf near Munich, which was announced a few weeks ago. In total, the German government intends to invest around three billion euros in various battery cell projects.

The production capacity of the planned factory in Tübingen is not known. According to the Tagesspiegel newspaper, “rather small quantities of high-performance storage units with high energy density and low internal resistance” are planned – to enable short charging times and long ranges in Porsche’s premium electric cars. A production capacity in the gigawatt range is conceivable in the medium term.

The Tübingen site was chosen not only because of its proximity to Porsche’s main Zuffenhausen plant – where the Taycan is being built – but also because of its existing facilities. In the KomVar research project, in which Custom Cells Itzehoe, P3 Automotive and the Centre for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Württemberg (ZSW) are involved, a research production facility for lithium ion cells has already been established in Tübingen. In October 2019, it was announced that the facilities will be able to produce different cell designs and cell technologies in large series quality despite small and medium quantities.

But: Daimler was an associated partner of KomVar at that time. What is not known is why Porsche and not Daimler is now setting up such series production using the findings from the research project. One possible explanation is that Daimler could have decided to work with other partners. It was only at the beginning of July that the company announced its entry into the Chinese battery cell manufacturer Farasis, which is to supply the German Mercedes plants from the planned factory in Bitterfeld-Wolfen, among other places. In addition, Daimler entered into a closer partnership with CATL only last week.

Porsche has been purchasing the cells for the Taycan from LG Chem, while the battery itself is pre-assembled by supplier Dräxlmaier and delivered to Zuffenhausen. Porsche is very satisfied with the Taycan’s sales figures so far, but higher quantities are expected for the next generation of the Macan, which will also be offered as an electric SUV.

Custom Cells Itzehoe was spun off from the Fraunhofer Institute for Silicon Technology in 2012. The Itzehoe-based company describes itself as one of the leading suppliers of “special lithium-ion cells”, or more precisely of “application-specific battery cells from prototypes to small and medium-sized series”.

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