It is a clear “Nein” to producing its own cells that Bosch has sent over the wires, saying the investment would be too risky. The decision crushes hopes of EU politicians who had wanted the German supplier on board the planned Battery Alliance. For Bosch, the No is total.
Not only do they not want to make their own cells in Europe but apparently start to move away from research into lithium batteries overall. “To be a significant player in electric mobility we don’t need to produce the cells by ourselves,” said Rolf Bulander, head of mobility solutions at Bosch. The company was therefore halting its research into cell technologies such as its cooperation with the start-up Seeo.
On a European level, the decision is a step backwards for the planned European Battery Alliance that had been outlined in a draft last week (we reported). EU Commissioner Maroš Šefčovič had called for no less than “ten Gigafactories” to feed the growing need for battery infrastructure in Europe. He estimated it would need an investment of 20bn euros to get the cell production going.
Bosch had come to the same conclusion already last year and had postponed the investment decision until now. Bosch CEO Volkmar Denner had concluded previously that Bosch would have to generate 200 GWh, which would need an investment of around 20bn euros. While Denner said the money as such would not be “any problem” for Bosch, the global company now decided that it is not worth the risk.
A Bosch statement reads: “Given dynamic external market factors that can only be predicted with difficulty, it is unclear whether this investment would pay off for Bosch, and when.” In particular the Asian competition from the likes of Samsung and Panasonic is making it very difficult if not improbable to get ahead of them, both in terms of price and quality.
Therefore, Bosch will stick to cell design and especially systems.
The Germans are not alone in their assessment of the situation. The European proposal of a “Battery Airbus” has been met with scepticism from the start (we reported). Regional and efforts in pilot productions however are underway in both Germany and Sweden.