Battery system manufacturer Akasol has officially commissioned its ‘Gigafactory 1’ at its headquarters in Darmstadt, Germany. The production lines currently offer a production capacity of one gigawatt-hour. However, expansion to adjacent areas is already planned with up to 5 GWh per year. Enough for 10,000 electric buses and trucks.
But production at Gigafactory 1 has already been running for a while: Akasol had already moved into the new headquarters in October 2020 and started production – with an initial one GWh. However, a ceremonial opening of the plant did not take place last autumn due to the pandemic-related restrictions.
At the opening ceremony, Hesse’s Minister of Economics Tarek Al-Wazir was among the 160 guests, and Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier gave a video greeting. “With the new Gigafactory in Darmstadt, AKASOL AG is making a decisive contribution to CO2 reduction in public transportation and logistics,” said Altmaier. “Innovative enterprises like this one help us meet our ambitious climate goals – and they create added value and jobs in Germany.”
Akasol CEO Sven Schulz spoke of a “significant milestone in our company history”. According to the company, it has invested 100 million euros at the site. “Here in Darmstadt, we produce high-performance lithium-ion battery modules and systems in a highly automated and extremely advanced production facility, which are an important key in the transport and energy transition,” Schulz said. “The course is now set for us to continue our growth as an innovation driver in electromobility even more dynamically.”
With the addition of new production lines, a capacity of the aforementioned 2.5 GWh should be reached in 2022, with up to five gigawatt-hours possible depending on customer demand. The cells, which Akasol assembles into modules and packs and equips with controllers and cooling systems, come from Samsung SDI, among others. According to Akasol, the plant would be “by far the largest production site for Li-ion battery systems in commercial vehicle applications in Europe” when fully expanded. Battery systems for more than 10,000 commercial vehicles per year could then come from Darmstadt. Akasol traditionally does not name customers, but it is known that the company supplies the Belgian bus manufacturer Van Hool and the Swedish Volvo Group.
The 20,000 square metre Akasol campus is located in the southwest of Darmstadt. In addition to the 15,000 square metre two-storey production, assembly and logistics hall, there is also a test and validation centre for testing cells, modules and systems on the site. The offices of the 7,500 square metre headquarters, right next to the production hall, are home to the up to 350 employees from research and development, sales, product and project management as well as purchasing and administration. The organic food retailer Alnatura also has its headquarters nearby.
“It is important to us to offer our employees in the new headquarters a modern and attractive working environment, one that promotes both knowledge-sharing and personal well-being,” says Carsten Bovenschen, CFO and Chief Human Resources Officer of the company. “Our campus has a sustainable energy supply and a production and test environment built to the highest standards of quality. With this investment, we are laying the cornerstone for our continued growth and long-term business success in the fast-growing market of electromobility.” A 600 kWp solar plant feeds the production facility and offices as well as Hesse’s largest charging station park for electric vehicles with over 60 charging stations with solar power.
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