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Germany established itself as the European electric mobility leader in 2020, with new vehicle sales of 400,000 for the year. A comparison of new electric car registrations for May 2020 and May 2021 shows a 380 percent increase. Electric vehicles (EV) account for just under 12 percent of the total number of newly registered vehicles. Attractive vehicle purchase subsidies have helped drive sales, with pure electric vehicles posting a 20.5 percent increase even in the coronavirus-induced crisis month of May 2020 when the auto industry witnessed a slump of around 50 percent in vehicle registrations across all classes. Willingness to switch to electric vehicles is also increasing, with around one in three Germans prepared to buy an electric car according to a survey conducted by Civey. Germany’s efforts to scale up electric mobility were further bolstered by the recent passing of a law stipulating the inclusion of EV charging infrastructure and parking spaces in all new and refurbished buildings.
Global demand for German and European technologies to service the electric battery sector will create a market worth up to EUR 60 billion by 2030, with annual sales volume of at least EUR 20 billion according technology consultancy Altran. According to the Fraunhofer Institute, battery factories with an annual production capacity of 500 to 600 gigawatt hours could be set up in Germany by 2030 – equivalent to almost one third of global production and enough to equip 10 million electric vehicles. Germany is already home to numerous companies and suppliers that are important providers in the value chain from cell chemistry and materials preparation through to final battery cell production.
Tesla has submitted formal application plans for the construction of a battery factory in Brandenburg. The electric vehicle manufacturer extended and submitted the new plans as part of its permit application for the construction of its car factory. Vehicle production is set to begin at the end of the year as part of the revised plans.
A number of German start-ups specializing in battery analysis are attracting the interest of large suppliers and manufacturers who require third party electric battery-life solutions. Dresden-based company Novum Engineering is just one of several German start-ups specializing in battery analysis to extend battery life, with Twaice in Munich and Accure in Aachen also enticing companies from the automotive and energy sectors with the promise of precise battery charging and residual capacity data. A number of start-ups are now involved in test and pilot projects to simulate battery performance and charging processes.
Volkswagen has announced plans to introduce bidirectional charging to its vehicles. As of 2022, all electric vehicles produced by the Volkswagen Group will be developed on the basis of the “Modular Electrification Toolkit” (MEB) that allows unused energy to flow back into the grid. Two bidirectional scenarios are emerging, the first being “vehicle to home” (where electric vehicles can store energy from a photovoltaic system, for example, and feed it back into the household energy supply) and “vehicle to grid” where all of the vehicles connected to a charging station can be linked to form a huge electricity storage system. Test vehicle development is already underway with the group entering the final preparation stages before rollout next year.
Swabian battery manufacturer Varta is reportedly seeking to enter the electric mobility battery-cell market. To date, Varta has mainly produced small lithium-ion button cells for wireless headphones as well as household batteries for remote controls, watches, flashlights and other small devices. The company is currently setting up a pilot project for a large format 21700 battery cell primarily for use in high-performance electric vehicles at its Ellwangen headquarters. Industry insiders believe that the company is currently in talks with a number of car manufacturers.