The battery manufacturer Varta aims to get involved in the market for electric car battery cells in the future. Up to now, the German company has primarily produced batteries for household electronics but has been involved in cell research for some time.
According to the German business publication Wirtschaftswoche, the new large-format battery cell 21700 is at the centre of Varta’s plans. The paper refers to “circles close to the company”, Varta itself did not want to comment on the topic. The company is currently building a pilot line for the 21700 cells at its headquarters in Ellwangen. According to the report, these are initially to be used primarily in high-performance electric cars – “for example as a short-term accelerator or as part of drive concepts in which the battery is permanently recharged by a motor while driving”, it says. Varta is currently in talks with several car manufacturers about this.
In the course of research activities, Varta is already known to many players in the electromobility industry – be it for the development of digitalised large-scale production of large-format battery cells alongside Fraunhofer IPA and ZSW or, more recently, for the creation of novel battery separators made of glass together with the University of Bayreuth and Tesla.
However, Varta moved into the limelight first and foremost with its participation in the first battery IPCEI (“Important Projects of Common European Interest”) of the European Union and with subsidies amounting to 300 million euros, which were granted to the company by the federal government and also by the states of Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg in 2022. According to the report, two-thirds of this sum will flow into the research and development of the new 21700 cells. The subsidies, which the European Commission approved under state aid law, can be drawn down by Varta until the end of 2024.
When the funding notifications were handed over in June last year, it was specifically stated that Varta would work on two projects: In addition to developing the latest generation of small-format lithium-ion cells with higher energy densities, the company plans to focus on transferring its technology to larger cell formats, for example for electric cars. However, the larger cells should also be able to be used in stationary battery storage or robots, for example.
In the course of setting up a pilot line for the new 21700 cells in Ellwangen, Varta is planning a recruitment drive: the group announced in mid-2020 that it intends to create around 1,000 new jobs in the German towns of Ellwangen and Nördlingen by the end of 2021. For Varta, this is enormous growth: the company currently has around 4,000 employees.
wiwo.de (in German)
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