Volkswagen has hired two high-profile managers for its battery programme. One of them is said to be Apple’s head of battery development Soonho Ahn, while solid-state cell expert Jörg Hoffmann is also to join VW from BMW.
Soonho Ahn had been working for Apple since 2019, before that the South Korean manager had worked for the cell manufacturers Samsung SDI and LG Energy Systems (formerly LG Chem). Initially, Manager Magazin had reported on the personnel matter, but in the meantime the report has been confirmed by Volkswagen.
However, it is not yet known exactly when Soonho Ahn will take up his position at Volkswagen. According to the insiders, Soonho Ahn is to head battery cell development at VW. As such, he is likely to work closely with Thomas Schmall, Chairman of the Board of Volkswagen Group Components. Ahn’s appointment is seen by various media as proof of how important battery production is to Volkswagen – according to Manager Magazin, Ahn is considered a superstar in the industry.
During his time at Apple – even if it was only two years – Ahn is said to have decisively advanced the battery technology for the ‘Titan’ project. There is talk of significantly reduced costs and increased range at the same time. Of course, nothing is known in detail, as there are not even any key data on Apple’s possible electric car yet.
While Ahn could use his knowledge to bring improvements to cell technology at VW in the short term – i.e. in time for the start of production in Sweden at Northvolt and Salzgitter – the second appointment is likely to be more long-term: Jörg Hoffmann, previously head of solid fuel cell programme management at BMW, is also moving to Volkswagen, according to the report.
Hoffmann will be responsible for the industrialisation of solid fuel cells at VW – for future battery generations. Both managers are likely to work in Salzgitter, where VW opened a laboratory for cell research and development in September. At the ‘Power Day’ in March, Volkswagen – or more specifically Frank Blome as head of the Center of Excellence Battery Cell – had described the solid-state battery as the “ultimate goal” of the battery strategy.
Blome also stated that the proof-of-concept of the technology from partner Quantum Scape is there, but there are still some hurdles on the way to industrialisation. VW has now brought an expert on board for the latter.
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