All of the latest news about electrified Volvos, the first Tesla Model 3 and even VW’s future plans are great for the electric car segment, but there could be a problem in the near future – not enough batteries. Volkswagen’s head of r&d Ulrich Eichhorn predicts that a massive lithium-ion battery shortage could happen soon if the equivalent of 40 Tesla gigafactories is not powered up by 2025.
Eichorn’s prediction is based on the fact that the VW Group expects a quarter of its group volume will come from the sale of electric vehicles by 2025. “We will need more than 200 gigawatt-hours,” Eichhorn told reporters last month.
The new estimate is an update to VW CEO Matthias Mueller’s estimate of 150 gigawatt-hours of electricity that the VW Group announced in June 2016. VW estimates that if every automaker targets the same 25 percent of sales volumes from electrified cars by 2025, automakers will require a supply of more than 1.5 terawatt-hours. That’s equal to more than 40 Tesla gigafactories, each with an annual capacity to produce 35 GWh of lithium-ion cells.
“That’s the demand we’ve extrapolated assuming other OEMs have a similar target,” stated Volkswagen Group researcher Linda Brinkhaus.
One thing that could help the industry is a next generation of battery technology. The greater the energy density of the cells, the fewer factories are needed to produce the same capacity. VW engineers are working on energy-rich battery cells using lithium sulphur, but Eichhorn predicts that it could be at least 15 years until the new battery technology is available.