6 Sep 23

The Battery Series: Volkswagen to boost performance through dry-coating

If you need a startle, take a look at the sales figures of Volkswagen (VW). Demand in 2022 was so high that CEO Herbert Diess told the Financial Times in May that the automaker had sold out for the year in both Europe and the U.S. At that point, orders for VW's battery electric vehicles (BEVs) had surpassed 300,000, and that's just in Western Europe. This level of demand justifies VW's heavy investments in electrification, at the core of which is an upgraded modular electric drive matrix system (MEB). 

In Q4 2022, VW's all-electric vehicle sales reached a new high of 205,800 units (a 29% increase year-over-year). VW Group sold over 572,000 BEVs last year overall, 26% more than in 2021. 

This year, VW's BEV sales reached 321,600 in the first six months, increasing by almost 50% compared to the same period in 2022, while 200,000 orders are still waiting in Europe. VW is Europe's number one BEV seller, even surpassing global leader Tesla. Europe represents 68% of VW's sales globally, followed by China (19%) and the U.S. (9%). 

The top-selling models of VW Group in the first half of 2023:

Volkswagen ID.4/ID.5 101,200
Volkswagen ID.3 49,800
Audi Q4 e-tron (incl. Sportback) 48,000
ŠKODA Enyaq iV (incl. Coupé) 31,300
Audi Q8 e-tron (incl. Sportback) 19,500

VW's trick is a dry-coating

For VW, innovation in batteries is critical to lower the price of its EVs by a few hundred euros. According to Der Spiegel, the way to do it is by applying a new dry coating process, lowering the energy consumption in battery cell production by around 30%. 

Volkswagen says it has developed a new dry coating process that will allow it to lower the price of its EVs by several hundred euros. Powerco, VW's battery subsidiary, will build a battery factory in Salzgitter, Germany to achieve large-scale production. VW itself is planning a similar factory in Canada. Having invested €40 million since 2020 into the dry-coating technology, VW expects it to reduce the space required to manufacture conventional lithium-ion batteries, thus reducing costs. According to Electrive, Tesla is also working on dry-coating for its 4680 cells and managed to dry-coat the anode but is still working on the cathode. 

VW's Modular Electric Drive Matrix. Image: VW.

VW appears to be a step ahead of Tesla in the dry-coating. In 2021, the German auto giant invested in U.S. startup 24M Technologies, which focused on advancing the lithium-ion cell manufacturing process. Being a licensee of 24M Technologies, VW aims to ease the battery manufacturing process and further develop battery technology. VW also invested in QuantumSpace, another U.S.-based company working on solid-state battery (SSB) technology since 2010. 24M Technologies and QuantumSpace expect to release their final product to market around the end of this decade. 

Before that, VW had many plans tied to the upgraded modular electric drive matrix (MEB) platform, unveiled in 2018. Now becoming MEB+, the platform will offer 10 EVs by 2026, powered by the new generation batteries, reaching a range of 700 km and charging speeds of 175-200 kW. Some new models will be variants of existing models, including ID.3, the ID.3 GTX, and the ID.2.

Surpassing 1 million EVs as of June 2023, the MEB platform has been the core of the ID electric car series and other EVs belonging to the VW Group. VW used an LGX E78 battery for the ID series, which also powered the Renault ZOE. VW applied battery packs in three sizes, the most extensive offering a range of around 300 miles (480 km). The specifications of the LGX E78 (PushEVs):

Manufacturer: LG Chem
Model: LGX E78
Voltage: 3,65 V
Capacity: 78 Ah
Weight: 1.073 g
Gravimetric energy density: 265 Wh/kg
Chemistry: NCM (nickel-cobalt-manganese) 712


VW had the idea of moving on with new generation batteries and new manufacturers, and this is what we will see in the MEB+ platform. 

Images: VW.

What are the plans for 2030?

In March 2021, VW announced its 'Accelerate' strategy, which is aimed at boosting the brand's electrification process. Following the new agenda, VW raised the bar for 2030, setting a target of 80% EV sales in Europe (up from 70%) and 55% in North America (up from 50%).

All-electric cars will lead the ambitious electrification agenda, as the German giant plans to produce only BEVs in Europe by 2033 following the launch of new models in late 2020s. 

VW plans to commit the Emden, Zwickau and Dresden factories for only EV manufacturing and will invest $482 million in its Wolfsburg plant in 2025. The upgrade is expected to increase the ID.3 production and launch the production of an all-electric SUV model on the MEB+ platform. 

VW is aiming to boost production and meet the demands of widening customer range, offering EVs under €25,000 to better compete with Chinese brands.  

If you missed the first two articles of the series, here they are: 

The Battery Series: How Tesla wants to keep world leadership?
The Battery Series: What does BYD have on the menu?

The main image shows Volkswagen ID.3, courtesy of VW.

Authored by: Mufit Yilmaz Gokmen