Volkswagen’s new battery company, PowerCo, announced Monday that it would be forming a joint venture with Umicore to produce battery materials for around 2.2 million EVs. The new joint venture is a significant milestone, establishing one of the first fully integrated auto supply chains as VW looks to ramp up EV sales.
PowerCo is a 100% owned subsidiary of Volkswagen that was established in July 2022 to handle the automaker’s global battery operations. Volkswagen and PowerCo began construction on its battery plant in Salzgitter, Germany, in July – the first of six planned.
As demand for electric vehicles continues soaring in all major auto markets (US, Europe, China, etc.), automakers are scrambling to keep up with demand. Many automakers are already sold out of their popular EV models for the year. With demand only expected to continue accelerating, the key question becomes: Where will automakers source all the materials?
Since the Inflation Reduction Act was passed in August, automakers from around the globe have rushed to secure deals to lock up critical battery materials in North America. For example, Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz, Honda, and Volkswagen (among others) have entered into agreements to source minerals in North America.
Volkswagen’s new JV with Umicore focuses on the automaker’s home market in Europe, where the automaker expects to overtake Tesla in EV sales by 2025, according to a Bloomberg Intelligence report.
The partnership was previously announced in December 2021, but today’s announcement confirms it, giving us a better idea of what we can expect going forward.
Why the Volkswagen Umicore partnership is significant
With Volkswagen’s PowerCo planning for six battery factories in total, it will require a significant amount of minerals to keep up with production.
That being said, Umicore announced in July its plans to build a manufacturing facility in Canada for cathode active battery materials (CAM) and their precursors (pCAM), which are crucial for EV battery performance and one of the most costly components.
The partnership aims for 160 GWh cell capacity per year by 2030, which is enough to power around 2.2 million EVs.
Thomas Schmall, chairman of the supervisory board of PowerCo, talks about how critical cathode material is to EV production, stating:
Cathode material is an indispensable strategic resource for battery production, accounting for roughly fifty percent of overall cell value. Immediate and long-term access to extensive capacity is thus a very clear competitive advantage. We are setting up a sustainable, transparent supply chain with high environmental and social standards, localizing value creation here in Europe.
Volkswagen (PoweCo) and Umicore plan for an equal 50/50 partnership where investments, costs, and profits will be split down the middle. The partners plan to invest about €3 billion (about $2.9 billion) to upgrade its supply chain for superior material production capabilities.
The Umicore partnership looks to give Volkswagen a significant advantage in the European EV market with one of the first fully integrated supply chains, from mining to refining capabilities.
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H2FLY to build aviation center at Stuttgart Airport to support hydrogen electric plane testing
Zero emission powertrain developer H2FLY has announced a joint project alongside Stuttgart Airport to develop and erect a Center for Excellence in Hydrogen Aviation. Together, the aviation teams will implement a purpose-built facility at the airport specifically designed to support hydrogen electric plane testing for passenger flights.
H2FLY is a company that specializes in the development of hydrogen electric aviation technology, hoping to be one of the first to deliver a qualified propulsion system to market. We’ve recently covered news of other companies completing their maiden testing flights using hydrogen electric planes, but H2FLY’s first flight was all the way back in 2016.
The HY4 hydrogen electric plane that completed that flight is still going through testing and broke a world record in 2022 when it soared above 7,000 feet in the sky during a 77-mile journey across Germany.
With nearly a decade of experience in zero-emissions aviation, H2FLY says it is continually seeking out ways to support its partnerships and accelerate its technology in Germany and the rest of the EU. As a Stuttgart-based company, H2FLY has found support at its local airport, where it will implement a new facility for hydrogen electric plane testing, research, and development.
Stuttgart to become hub for hydrogen electric plane testing
H2FLY states that the Hydrogen Aviation Center at Stuttgart Airport will be developed and constructed as a joint project between both parties and will be supported by the government of Baden-Württemberg using funding from its Ministry of Transport.
The Center itself will provide a centrally located aviation facility where businesses and scientific institutes alike can perform development and testing of hydrogen electric propulsion with the goal of delivering zero emission passenger planes someday. Minister-President of Baden-Württemberg Winfried Kretschmann spoke:
We’ve been following our own hydrogen roadmap in Baden-Württemberg for two years. With hydrogen set to play a crucial role in tomorrow’s transport and logistics sector, one of our aims is to establish ourselves as a leading region in the transformation of aviation. To achieve this, we need concrete actions – such as the new Center of Excellence for Hydrogen in Aviation at Stuttgart Airport which is being co-financed by the government of Baden-Württemberg to the tune of €5.5 million. Aircraft such as those being developed here point the way to the future of emission-free flight. This project will enable our region to become not just a center of R&D for hydrogen aircraft, but eventually also a manufacturing center, and demonstrate how we are countering climate change with a spirit of innovation.
This footprint in Stuttgart will eventually consist of a dedicated hangar with testing stands, workshops, plus an integration area for hydrogen electric plane conversions or installations. The joint project is also planning an outdoor area for demonstrations.
H2FLY states the testing infrastructure will require mega-watt scale components and subsystems as well as close collaboration with the airport, commercial companies, and scientific institutes. Looking ahead the next few years, H2FLY expects hydrogen electric planes to be able to transport 40 passengers distances of up to 2,000 kilometers (1,240 miles), but there is still plenty of testing that will need to take place.
The Hydrogen Aviation Center is expected to open in late 2024 and is expected to become the hub for hydrogen electric plane testing and development and H2FLY welcomes all interested organizations to utilize the facilities.
Genesis X electric sedan concept will enter production as flagship EV – report
Genesis gave us a glimpse into what the brand’s future will behold by revealing the X Convertible EV concept at last year’s LA Auto Show. According to new reports, the luxury electric sedan will go into production as Genesis’s new flagship EV.
After an overwhelmingly positive response to its Genesis X Speedium Coupe Concept EV revealed last April, the automaker completed its concept trilogy by revealing the X Convertible Concept in November.
The X Convertible takes the best features from its first two Concept vehicles, the X (a two-door grand tourer that highlights Genesis athletic design) and the X Speedium (a more progressive representation of the brand’s elegance), materializing it into one.
One of the most distinct features you see when looking at the luxury EV sedan is the front headlight bars that replace the iconic Genesis front grille. Genesis says the look integrates the new EV face and forms an abstract of the Crest Grille.
At the time of its release, executive vice president and chief creative officer Luc Donckerwolke told reports:
At the moment we’re showing the search for an icon for the brand, and this is one of the possibilities.
The company may have found its icon, as a new report from Automotive News suggests the X Convertible concept is headed to production as the brand’s flagship EV.
Genesis X Convertible EV to enter production
According to Peter Lanzavechia, chairman of the Genesis National Dealer Advisory Council, at Genesis’s annual meeting, Donckerwolke told dealers the X convertible Concept would go into production.
When he said that at the dealer meeting — to say it in front of a couple of hundred Genesis dealers — that’s a pretty good sign.
Genesis dealers are requesting an electric performance GT coupe, according to Lanzavechia, as he adds:
I guarantee we’re going see a lot of Bentley Continental convertible trade-ins on that when it comes to our showrooms.
Genesis, Hyundai’s luxury brand, has already released two electric vehicles. Its first, the electrified G80, is a luxury electric sedan adapted from its gas-powered G80. And The Genesis GV60, its first dedicated EV – based on Hyundai’s E-GMP platform – that buyers began receiving in May 2022.
If the Genesis X Convertible concept does enter production, Lanzavechia said, “It would be a true halo flagship for the brand.”
Genesis plans to become an all-electric brand, halting ICE car development in 2025 and selling only electric models from 2030. What do you guys think? Do you want to see the X Convertible go into production?
TravelCenters (TA) to deploy 1,000 Electrify America DC fast chargers at 200 locations across major highways
The largest publicly traded full-service truck stop and travel center, TravelCenters of America (TA), is teaming up with Electrify America to deploy DC fast chargers along major highways to meet the growing number of electric vehicles on the road.
People are buying electric vehicles at a record pace as interest in zero-emission EVs has never been higher.
New EV sales volume reached over 800,000 for the first time last year, an increase of 65% compared to 2021, according to Kelley Blue Book.
More electric vehicles on the road mean additional charging infrastructure is needed to accommodate the surge. Although over 80% of charging is done at home, expanding the number of available public chargers can give EV drivers confidence on long trips or on the highway.
Electrify America currently operates one of the largest DC fast-charger networks across the US, with 3,435 fast chargers across 791 stations, according to their website.
Unlike many publicly available EV chargers, EA offers some of the fastest charging speeds. EA’s Ultra-Fast 150 kW and Hyper-Fast 350 kW options make them suitable for public deployment, especially along major highways.
TravelCenters teams up with Electrify America
In a significant partnership, TravelCenters is teaming up with Electrify America to offer EV charging at select TA/Petro locations.
The first stations are expected to roll out this year with a goal of deploying around 1,000 individual EV chargers at 200 locations along major highways over the next five years.
President and CEO of Electrify America praised the company’s new partnership, saying:
Electrify America is pleased to collaborate with an industry leader like TravelCenters of America to provide the critical infrastructure needed for EV drivers of today and tomorrow. Our combined strengths allow us to take bigger steps toward our shared vision of a more sustainable future.
Electrify America will handle the infrastructure deployment process and maintenance. Meanwhile, TravelCenters will gain access to the company’s charging network, allowing the locations to become visible to EV drivers to access via its mobile app.
In addition, the company says the network of charging stations will be available for most EV models.
The partnership is a win all around. Electrify America continues expanding its network with one of the most prominent truck stops and travel centers. TravelCenters will see additional traffic as more and more drivers switch to zero-emissions EVs over the coming years.
And perhaps, most importantly, EV drivers will have more fast charging options along major highways.
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