Bosch is the world’s largest automotive supplier and it is heavily investing in electric vehicle components to support the industry’s transition to electric vehicles.
But there’s one important electric car component that Bosch is not making: battery cells.
The company now says that it is considering a significant investment to start producing batteries.
Bosch’s head of automotive, Volkmar Denner, made the comment during an interview with Handelsblatt this week:
“I don’t know of any other company that is working on electromobility as broadly as Bosch, from bicycles to trucks. We have been investing massively in electromobility for years. We will decide in 2018 whether we should begin producing battery cells.”
Over a year ago, Bosch bought the solid-state battery start-up Seeo Inc. and has since been sparsely revealing details about its plan to bring new battery technologies to market by 2020 with a 50 kWh battery pack weighing only 190 kg, but it never committed to start producing cells.
Now it sounds like they will take a decision next year.
Denner says that if they are going to start battery cell production, they will do it in a big way.
The executive talked about a €20 billion investment to create 200 GWh of production capacity by 2030:
“Bosch is the innovation leader in all fields in which we operate. This is an essential part of our strategy. A leading position in battery cells would mean about a 20-percent market share. We assume that approximately 1,000 gigawatt hours of battery capacity will be needed by 2030. This means that we would have to develop around 200 gigawatt hours of capacity by 2030, at a cost of roughly €20 billion. Although this investment is not a problem for Bosch financially, it’s a decision that needs to be carefully considered from an entrepreneurial point of view. There are many risks involved.”
He also added that if they do start production of battery cells, it would make sense for them to start with “the next generation of solid state cells.”
If it goes through, it will have to be one of the biggest investments in battery cell production ever.
In comparison, Tesla’s Gigafactory 1 in Nevada, is expected to become the largest battery factory in the world with a planned production capacity of 105 GWh (150 GWh of battery packs) in 2020.
Of course, 2030 is a decade later, but it’s still a significant increase over the current planned capacity.
But the possibility of going right into solid-state batteries first might be even more interesting. Solid-state batteries are thought to be a lot safer than common li-ion cells and could have more potential for higher energy density, but they also have their own limitations, like temperature ranges, electrode current density, and we have yet to see a company capable of producing it in large-scale and at an attractive price point competitive with li-ion.
A €20 billion investment could change that.