Germany has earmarked €1 billion to support solid state electric car battery cell manufacture and research.
The funding boost is aimed at reducing the country’s dependence on Asian electric car battery cell imports and protecting German manufacturing jobs, which have faced a potential threat from the decline in demand for traditionally fuelled vehicles. The money will be divided between a consortium assembled to produce electric car batteries and a purpose-built research facility to develop the “next generation” of solid state battery cell technology.
The German government has been in talks with VARTA Microbattery, a German battery manufacturer; BASF, the world’s largest chemical producer; and Ford-Werke GmBH, Ford’s German subsidiary; in hopes of partnering with one of the firms to build an electric car battery cell factory. German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier has solicited input from other European governments to maximise productivity and prompt international cooperation.
Germany’s economy is heavily reliant on its car manufacturing industry, which generated around €426 billion in 2017 – around 12 per cent of the country’s total GDP. Taking into account the global shift away from combustion engine-powered vehicles and the multitude of jobs provided by the German car industry – the country’s auto industry association has said the incoming ban on production of new petrol- and diesel-powered vehicles, which will come into effect in 2030, could threaten up to 436,000 jobs – authorities have decided a homegrown electric car battery cell industry is well worth cultivating.
The shift towards research and development into electric cars over those powered by petrol and diesel comes in the aftermath of German car manufacturer Volkswagen’s 2015 Dieselgate scandal, where cars were found to have been fitted with “defeat devices” which falsified their emissions to pass tests; and the revelation last week that 1.8 million cars fitted with defeat devices had yet to be recalled three years on.
The supervisory board of Volkswagen will be examining and updating its electric car battery cell policies at a meeting on Friday, November 16, with a view to forming a potential future partnership with South Korean battery manufacturer SK Innovation. Meanwhile BMW has struck a deal with Chinese firm Contemporary Amperex Technology Ltd, the world’s largest electric car battery cell producer, to build a battery plant in eastern Germany.