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challenge will be in the less familiar area of battery costs. As VW makes the transition from internal combustion to electrification, it needs to not only master the use of batteries but secure a reliable, cost-effective supply of the raw materials, while being on the lookout for technical advances.
Said Senger: ‘Today 40 per cent of an EV’s cost is the battery and while the cost of components like electric motors and power electronics has halved we won’t achieve cost parity until 2025, not before. We have to reduce battery costs but in the meantime reduce complexity by simplifying the architecture is a move in the right direction.’
Like the MEB, the battery pack is modular. According to the new WLTP assessment, the entry-level battery will offer 200 miles of range. The next step up is around 270 miles. A third, yet to be confirmed, is expected to hold enough charge to offer a 340-mile range. Initially, the entry hatch in 2020 will only get the middle-sized battery, expected to be 48kW/h; the most powerful is likely to debut in an SUV.
The lithium-ion batteries are still undergoing development, according to Dr Armin Modlinger, responsible for developing cell technology for all the VW brands; he’s based at the pilot line for battery cell production being built in Salzgitter. VW is using both prismatic and pouch cells for the most efficient packaging and easier handling. ‘We need to increase the energy density to improve range by adding more nickel to the cathode and silicon to the anode,’ he said.
Crucially, because the ID range will be built on a global scale, including the USA and China, the batteries are ‘cell agnostic’ – able to accommodate locally produced cells.
According to Modlinger, solid state batteries – with their improved safety and higher energy density – are not likely to appear until the end of the 2020s.
ID is not just about electrification. When the first production ID is launched, it will be the first VW to be permanently connected to the cloud via 4G, and it is being future-proofed for 5G. VW has developed a completely new end-to-end electronics architecture, branded E3, together with the new vw.OS operating system allowing the car’s software to be remotely updated.
A trio of separate application servers control various functions on the car: an infotainment server for third-party apps; an autonomous driving server; and a third server that is only accessible via VW’s digital platform. VW is part of the Ionity partnership with Daimler, BMW and Ford, which plans to open
400 charging sites with an average of six charge points per site across Europe in 2020; as demand and technology evolve, these will be able to charge at up to 350kW and 920 volts.
Senger dismissed concerns about battery recycling and the prospect of a dead li-ion battery mountain, revealing that VW is working with both universities and industry to develop recycling processes that will recover 97 per cent of the batteries’ chemicals, although that is unlikely to emerge before 2025 when there are sufficient EVs on the road to make it financially viable.
‘Before then we could just replace any cells that fail and rebalance the battery or remove the battery and use it for stationary storage – there will be a huge market for this as the pricing is higher than in the automotive value chain.’
Credit where it’s due: hasn’t VW been forced into this by Elon Musk and Tesla?’ Senger says: ‘Tesla proved that people like EVs and that it’s not just about being CO2 compliant. If Model 3 had been on time – yes, that would have been a serious threat.’
Concepts show a possible MEB family: from left, ID, ID Crozz, ID Vizzion and ID Buzz LIVING WITH AN IDVW has a three-pronged charging strategy. Every European dealer will get at least three charging points (7.2, 11 and 125kW). Customers can buy a domestic 11kW charger. And VW is part of the Ionity project to open 400 public charging sites across Europe in2020.