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Volkswagen Group Components to start series production of flexible fast charging station in 2020; replacing heat exchanger production

Volkswagen Group Components—the new brand within the Volkswagen Group that supplies components including engines, gearboxes, electric drive systems, steering systems and seats towards e-mobility—will begin series production of the flexible fast charging station (earlier post) from 2020 onwards.

This station, based on the principle of a powerbank, can charge up to 4 vehicles at the same time and also be used for the interim storage of renewable power. The station is to be produced at the Hanover components plant, where heat exchanger production, forming part of the engine business area, will be replaced step-by-step by the new e-mobility business area.

The development of charging infrastructure will be a key factor in the success of e-mobility. The flexible fast charging station developed by Group Components can make a key contribution in this area. This is confirmed by the considerable interest shown by potential partners. The charging station is an element in the end-to-end responsibility of Group Components for the high-voltage battery—from the development of cell production competences through to recycling. At the same time, the transformation of heat exchanger production at the Hanover components plant will provide sustainable prospects for the future in the new e-mobility business area.

—Thomas Schmall, CEO of Volkswagen Group Components

From 2020 onwards, flexible charging station production will gradually replace heat exchanger production, forming part of the engine and foundry business area. The transition to e-mobility will allow the plant to accomplish the needed transformation and will contribute to safeguarding employment and sustainably strengthening the financial situation of the Hanover components plant.

In addition, the changeover will ensure that optimum use is made of the skills of employees at the plant. For example, a heat exchanger developer will be able to deploy his or her know-how in future for the development of battery cooling systems or the optimization of thermal management.

Developers and planners have already been involved in piloting the concept for the flexible fast charging station since 2018. The pilot project is to start in the summer of 2019 together with the city of Wolfsburg. From 2020, production of the first fast charging stations will start at the Hanover plant. At the same time, cooperation is to be discussed with possible partners. Forecasts indicate that considerable demand for flexible fast charging stations is to be expected in connection with the ramp-up of e-mobility over the next few years.

The charging station is based on the battery package of the Volkswagen Group’s Modular Electric Toolkit (MEB) and is designed to use its cell modules. Later, the charging station will provide a second life for batteries from electric vehicles.

The consistent transformation of the product portfolio towards e-mobility is a key element in the strategy of Group Components. The company is focusing intensively on new activities such as the flexible fast charging station and is investing massively in mobility.

The production of the charging station will mean that a fourth German components plant will be producing components for e-mobility. The Brunswick plant develops and produces battery systems for the Group’s electric vehicles. The Center of Excellence for battery cells is located at Salzgitter, where it will be joined by rotor and stator production for electric motors from mid-2019. The Kassel plant produces electric motors for the full-electric vehicle generation. At Hanover, Group Components will be focusing on charging infrastructure from 2020 onwards.

Components transformation. The changeover from conventional powertrains to e-mobility is an issue that is more important for Group Components than for any other unit of the Volkswagen Group, as the new brand produced more than 10 million conventional vehicle engines and over 8 million gearboxes, for example, in 2018.

Volkswagen says that this is why the structure of the business areas was also slimmed down in connection with the establishment of the brand. The business areas “engine and foundry” have been merged and the “e-mobility” business area has been newly established. The portfolio is rounded off by the three business areas “gearbox and electric drive”, “chassis” and “seats”.

The plastics business area has been transformed and integrated into the production organization of the Volkswagen brand. Each of the five business areas is responsible for its portfolio strategy and the overall process.

In addition to conventional engines and gearboxes, Group Components already develops and produces electric motors and battery systems for a variety of Group brands and will be massively boosting these capacities over the next few years. In addition, a cross-brand ramp-up strategy for the production of electric drive systems has been developed. Group Components will now implement this strategy in cooperation with Audi, Porsche, Volkswagen and other Group brands.

In future, Group Components will complete key value addition stages in the context of end-to-end responsibility for batteries itself. At the Salzgitter components plant, developers and production planners are already building up sustainable battery cell competences for the Group in the Center of Excellence (CoE). Battery systems are being developed and produced at the Brunswick components plant—in future the production portfolio will include batteries for MEB vehicles of various Group brands.

When batteries reach the end of their service lives in vehicles, some of them will be transferred to other applications—for example in new products such as the flexible fast charging station which Group Components will be producing at the Hanover plant from 2020 onwards.

In the future, Group Components is also to be responsible for recycling end-of-life batteries. In the first half of 2020, a pilot plant is to be opened at Salzgitter for the further development of the recycling process for high-voltage batteries. This plant will be based on processes that have already been researched with a view to validating the technical feasibility and economic viability of series operation.

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