Varta to bundle research & development in Graz

The German battery manufacturer Varta is pushing ahead with the establishment of a large research facility for battery technology in Graz. Work there will focus on the optimization of existing battery technologies and the development of "post-lithium technologies". Explicitly also for the automotive sector.


The German battery manufacturer Varta had put its electric car plans for 2022 on hold but is now planning to produce battery cells for electric cars on a larger scale again. The R&D offensive now also speaks for this, as the latest technologies for a wide range of applications are to be developed in the new centre in Graz on an area of around 3,500 square meters. Varta also stated that the tech developed here will be used expressly in the automotive sector.

According to Varta, work on the facility is nearing completion. Specifically, the advance is being made through “the expansion of Varta Innovation”, as stated in an accompanying press release. Varta Innovation GmbH is a research spin-off of Varta Microbattery GmbH and Graz University of Technology. The aim is to operate one of the most modern research facilities for battery technology in Europe.

Varta is aiming for full operation of the facility at the beginning of the second quarter of 2024. By the end of the fourth quarter, the number of international researchers, currently around 30, is expected to grow to 50. Research work will focus on “the optimization of existing battery technologies and the development of post-lithium technologies”. The focus is also on sustainability, reducing energy consumption in production and the use of recycled materials.

“The expansion of our materials and basic research in Graz is a logical consequence. We want to consolidate our position as one of the technology and innovation leaders in the field of battery technology. There are particularly promising developments in post-lithium technologies, for example in the increasingly important field of decentralised energy storage, which is based on inexpensive, sustainable and unproblematic materials such as sodium,” said Varta CTO Rainer Hald.

However, according to the Varta manager, there is also a lot of potential in lithium-ion technology. According to Hald, the technology hub in Graz is a crucial building block for the company’s future viability and allows it to achieve reliable results in pre-development very quickly, which can then be quickly transferred to series production of innovative technologies. “But that’s not all: The new research centre is also a very interesting development partner for companies from the automotive and non-automotive sectors.”

Varta has recently revised its strategy several times: in 2022, the company put the construction of a factory for automotive batteries on hold for the time being for cost reasons. However, an acceptance agreement concluded in August 2023 already indicated that the German battery manufacturer is continuing to work on the series production of battery cells for electric cars. According to consistent media reports from South Korea, Varta appointed SK Nexilis as the exclusive supplier of anode copper foil at the time.

In any case, Varta has the technology and expertise ready: in April 2021, the company presented its V4Drive cylindrical cell in the 21700 format as a booster battery and announced larger cylindrical cells for BEVs six months later. Pilot production of the V4Drive cells in the 21700 format started at the end of 2021. Mass production was initially due to start in 2023 with a production capacity of at least 2 GWh – until this plan was paused.


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