If the Tesla Battery Day was about the 4680 form factor and the technical advantages it might present, Volkswagen’s equivalent is all about scale. Ironically, it did not forget about a form factor. Although the company did not disclose what it will be, we are ahead of a sort of platform for all cells. Regardless of the chemistry, all cells will present the same format. To make a long story short, Volkswagen will have what it calls the unified cell.
Think about it as an MEB for batteries. Instead of changing the modules to get a longer or shorter electric car, Volkswagen’s cell platform will just choose different chemistries for each application. That will allow the company to have a unique format for all its electric vehicles, which will help Volkswagen achieve very high production volumes.
Reuters suggested Volkswagen would adopt prismatic cells, which could imply all cars would have LFP batteries. That’s not the case: although the images for the unified cell remind us of a prismatic cell, it is actually a module. These modules will be integrated into CTP (cell-to-pack) battery packs, which will be Volkswagen’s standard from 2023 on.
That is the year in which the first vehicle with the unified cell will go on sale. By 2030, Volkswagen expects that 80 percent of all its vehicles will have the unified cell with a variety of chemistries: LFP, high-nickel, manganese, and solid-state cells.
To get there, Volkswagen will have six gigafactories in Europe. Each of them will have a capacity for 40 GWh per year, or 240 GWh in total. This is what the German automaker believes it will need by 2030.
These gigafactories will be built with partners such as Northvolt, LG, SK Innovation, CATL, and others. The only of these suppliers to be mentioned in the presentation so far was Northvolt.
Apart from the unified cell, Volkswagen also stressed it would have recycling centers and that its electric cars will be an integral part of the energy system, which suggests all of them should have vehicle-to-grid capabilities.
This is a developing story.