The engineering company Manz has received an order from an unnamed US electric vehicle manufacturer for an assembly line for battery modules made of round cells in the lower double-digit million euro range. The first lines are to be installed in 2021.
Manz sets itself apart from its competitors with a laser process for welding round cells into modules. According to CEO Martin Drasch, the customer relies on Manz’s BLS 500 laser platform and LightAssembly modular assembly platform. For the time being, the machine specialist from Reutlingen, Germany is not disclosing any further details about the order.
However, in an accompanying press release, Manz sprinkles in a few more references to the customer. For example, it is a promising US pioneer of electric mobility and a new customer for Manz. And Manz talks about highly efficient round cells that the customer uses and the great market potential that these cells have from the German company’s point of view.
The fact is that there are rather few electric car manufacturers that rely exclusively on round cells. Of course, the best-known proponent of this cell format is Tesla, to which the evidence would also fit but this is by no means a conclusive supposition. The Californian company uses round cells of the 18650 and 2170 type and introduced an even larger and more powerful round cell called 4680 only a few months ago. In contrast, German carmakers, for example, tend to rely on prismatic cells and pouch cells.
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What is also interesting to note, is that this is a new customer for Manz: the first rumours that Manz was supplying Tesla were already circulating a few years ago in the run-up to the construction of Gigafactory 1 in Nevada. If Tesla is already a customer of Manz, Tesla is ruled out here.
Another possible, but of course unconfirmed customer would be Lucid Motors: The American company has not officially specified the cell type of their Air electric sedan. But when the supply contract with LG Chem was announced in February 2020, Korean media, citing LG Chem, reported that it would be cylindrical cells. And both LG Chem and Lucid boast of the particularly high energy density. Since Lucid relies on 900-volt technology, the company could also be called a pioneer.
Manz says that the new order will seamlessly continue the successful development of the past fiscal year. In 2020, the company said it achieved a significant increase in incoming orders, revenues and earnings compared to 2019. Among the orders from last year, several came from e-mobility players, such as battery systems manufacturer Akasol and Slovakian battery cell manufacturer InoBat Auto, but also from suppliers with eMobility projects such as TE Connectivity.
On the occasion of the new order, CEO Drasch notes that the topic of electromobility is now also gaining significant momentum across the board in the US market. “In addition to the immense opportunities offered by the already booming European market, we are convinced that we will increasingly be able to convince customers from the US of our production facilities for high-performance and efficient battery systems and benefit from their ambitious expansion plans.”
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