Traton could build a third assembly plant for truck batteries

Volkswagen's truck subsidiary Traton wants to build another battery assembly plant for electric trucks of its MAN and Scania brands. Possible locations include Salzgitter in Germany, Krakow in Poland and Zwolle in the Netherlands.

Image: Traton

This was reported by the German news agency DPA, citing a company spokesperson. The factory would be Traton’s third battery plant. The first one went online in Södertäje, Sweden, in September 2023, while another is currently under construction in Nuremberg. It should start production next year. In all cases, these are assembly sites. Traton buys the battery cells from third parties and then integrates them into modules and packs itself.

According to DPA, the considerations for a third factory are at an early stage, and a decision is expected in the autumn. According to the company spokesperson, production would start at the beginning of the next decade at the earliest. However, Traton’s management is also considering the purchase of batteries as an alternative to the factory.

One thing is clear: demand will grow quickly. According to new EU regulations, manufacturers must reduce the CO2 emissions of their new fleet by 45 per cent by 2030 compared to the reference year 2019. By 2040, this figure will rise to 90 per cent. Comprehensive electrification is essential to achieve these standards. Manufacturers who fail to meet the targets will face severe penalties.

According to German media, the investment for the third battery assembly plant could be around 200 million euros. Traton wants to have the same production capacity as in Nuremberg, which can produce up to 100,000 battery modules per year. According to MAN, that will be enough for around 20,000 electric trucks. Salzgitter is a possible German location and is, of course, known as a VW stronghold. Volkswagen is currently building its own battery cell factory, and MAN has a component plant there.

Meanwhile, competitor Daimler Truck is currently building a battery cell plant in the US. The project is a joint venture between Daimler Truck, Paccar and the Cummins business unit Accelera. As it will produce its own cells, it is getting even more involved in the value chain than Traton. The site in the US state of Mississippi will produce 21 GWh of batteries per year and will begin production in 2027.

Daimler Truck currently purchases its battery cells from CATL. The order for the first models that went into series production in 2021 (i.e. from the eActros onwards) dates back to 2019. In May 2021, it was agreed that the Chinese battery giant would also supply cells for the upcoming eActros 600 from 2024. In other words, in the foreseeable future, Daimler’s electric trucks will be on the road with cells from CATL. Specifically, the Chinese will supply prefabricated modules rather than individual cells. The manufacturer then assembles the packs itself in Mannheim, Germany.

The Volvo Group has also announced the construction of a cell plant. The Group has already stated that it intends to set up large-scale production in Sweden in 2022. Production in Mariestad will begin in 2030. (in German)


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