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Porsche creates JV with Customcells to produce high-performance battery cells


JV will eventually build a gigafactory

Plant to have minimum 100 MWh/year capacity

Cells to use chemistry that relies on silicon as anode material

  • Author
  • Jacqueline Holman
  • Editor
  • Alisdair Bowles
  • Commodity
  • Electric Power Energy Transition Metals
  • Tags
  • Lithium
  • Topic
  • Battery Metals Energy Transition Environment and Sustainability

Automaker Porsche has established a joint venture with specialist lithium-ion battery cells developer Customcells to produce high-performance battery cells for future Porsche models at the Weissach Development Center in Germany and to build a gigafactory nearby.

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Porsche said June 22 that it had a majority stake of 83.75% in the JV, called Cellforce Group, and had invested a "high double-digit million" amount as the latest step in its electric strategy.

Cellforce is headquartered in Tuebingen, southwest Germany, which has also been shortlisted as a possible location for a battery factory that is to be located in close proximity to the Weissach research and development center, as well as Porsche's headquarters in Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen.

"The goal for the planned production plant is to reach a minimum annual capacity of 100 MWh. This is equivalent to high-performance batteries for 1,000 vehicles," Customcells CEO Torge Thoennessen said.

Cellforce plans to produce the cells using a chemistry that relies on silicon, rather than graphite, as the anode material, which can significantly boost the power density compared to current batteries.

Porcshe explained that this allows the battery to offer the same energy content with a smaller size, with the new chemistry also reducing the battery's internal resistance and allowing it to absorb more energy during energy recuperation, while at the same time offering improved performance for fast charging.

The Cellforce battery cell will also be better able to withstand high temperatures.

"These are all qualities that are highly valued in motorsport. In addition, use on the race track does not necessarily require the battery to function in sub-zero temperatures nor remain stable for years over many charging cycles -- goals which have yet to be achieved with this new cell technology," it said.

Porsche said the German government and the state of Baden-Württemberg were providing around Eur60 million in funding for the project.

Porsche is aiming to achieve overall carbon-neutrality by 2030 throughout the entire production process and life cycle of its new vehicles.

BASF chosen as cell development partner

Porsche said that chemicals company BASF had been chosen as a cell development partner for the next generation of lithium-ion batteries and would be exclusively providing high-energy HEDTM NCM cathode materials for the high-performance cells that enable fast charging and high energy densities.

It added that BASF would be able to produce battery materials with an industry-leading low carbon footprint from 2022 at its manufacturing facilities for primary products of cathode materials in Harjavalta, Finland, and for cathode materials in Brandenburg, Germany.

Porsche chairman Oliver Blume said Cellforce would be instrumental in driving forward the research, development, production and sale of high-performance battery cells.

"This joint venture allows us to position ourselves at the forefront of global competition in developing the most powerful battery cell and make it the link between the... Porsche driving experience and sustainability. This is how we shape the future of the sports car," Blume said

Minister-President of Baden-Wuerttemberg Winfried Kretschmann said that the founding of Cellforce sent an important signal that electrification was one of the central pillars of the energy and transport transition and modern storage technology was a key technology of the future.

The parliamentary state secretary at Germany's Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, Thomas Bareiss, said the battery project was a prime example of what governments wanted to achieve with the Important Projects of Common European Interest (IPCEI) battery cell production initiative.

"We are pleased that we, as the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, can provide the necessary boost with this contribution to get another battery cell production started in Germany," Bareiss said, adding that Baden-Wuerttemberg was becoming a battery hotspot.

Tübingen Mayor Boris Palmer said the high-performance battery cells would fit with the ambitious climate protection program to become CO2-neutral by 2030.