VW increase stake in solid-state batteries with $100M investment

Volkswagen will increase its stake in the California technology company QuantumScape Corporation and form a new joint venture.

VW says it is paving the way for the next level of battery power for long-range e-mobility. Dr. Axel Heinrich, Head of VW Group Research, who will take a seat on the board of directors of QuantumScape, says: “We want to accelerate the commercialization of QuantumScape’s solid-state batteries. And we combine forces to leverage Volkswagen’s experience as a production specialist and QuantumScape technology leadership. Volkswagen is thus taking another step toward a sustainable, zero emission mobility for our customers in the future.” Volkswagen will invest 100m USD in US-based QuantumScape and will become the innovative enterprise’s largest automotive shareholder. Closing of the transaction is subject to regulatory approval.

Since 2012, Volkswagen Group Research has already been collaborating closely with the Stanford spin-off. Based on the significant technical progress that this cooperation has made, QuantumScape and Volkswagen will work together within a newly formed joint venture with the aim to enable an industrial level of production of solid-state batteries. One of the long-term targets is to establish a production line for solid-state batteries by 2025.

“Volkswagen is the world’s largest automotive manufacturer and leads the industry in its commitment to electrification of its fleet,” says Jagdeep Singh, CEO of QuantumScape. “We are thrilled to be chosen by Volkswagen to power this transition. We think the higher range, faster charge times, and inherent safety of QuantumScape’s solid-state technology will be a key enabler for the next generation of electrified powertrains.”

Founded in 2010, QuantumScape is headquartered in San José, California and holds approximately 200 patents and patent applications for solid-state battery technology. Its deep expertise makes the company a leading pioneer in the development of this form of energy storage. “The solid-state battery will mark a turning point for e-mobility”, says Axel Heinrich of Volkswagen Group. “By increasing our stake in QuantumScape and forming the joint venture we strengthen and deepen our strategic cooperation with an innovative partner and secure access to the promising QuantumScape battery technology for Volkswagen.”

Solid-state battery cell technology is seen as the most promising approach for the e-mobility of the future. For example, a solid-state battery would increase the range of the E-Golf to approximately 750 kilometers compared with the present 300 kilometers. This battery technology has further advantages over the present lithium-ion technology: higher energy density, enhanced safety, better fast charging capability and – above all – they take up significantly less space. A solid-state battery of the same size as a current battery package can achieve a range comparable to that of conventional vehicles. While the approach has a lot of promise, advances have been difficult to attain and no other battery supplier has been able to achieve automotive performance. Volkswagen successfully tested QuantumScape early-stage solid-state battery sample cells in Germany running at automotive rates of power—an industry first.

Volkswagen reveal ID-R all-electric prototype Pikes Peak racer

Volkswagen has named its latest motorsport project the I.D. R Pikes Peak. This all-electric prototype racing car will compete in the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb on 24 June in Colorado.

The four-wheel-drive racing car points to the sporting potential of the I.D. family of all-electric vehicles and is also the first step towards a closer relationship between Volkswagen R and Volkswagen Motorsport.

The Volkswagen brand plans to offer more than 20 fully-electric cars by 2025. Manufacture of the first production model of the I.D. family is scheduled to start at the end of 2019 in Zwickau, Germany.

"We want to be at the forefront of electro-mobility with Volkswagen and the I.D. family. Competing in the most famous hillclimb in the world with the I.D. R Pikes Peak is a valuable test for the general development of electric cars."
—Dr. Frank Welsch, Volkswagen Member of the Board of Management with responsibility for Development

The international Pikes Peak Hill Climb, also known as the “Race to the Clouds”, has been held since 1916 near Colorado Springs in the Rocky Mountains. The 12.4-mile route starts at just above 9,000 feet and climbs to the summit at 14,115 feet above sea level.

Volkswagen last entered the Pikes Peak hillclimb in 1987 with a spectacular dual-engine Golf, which generated 652 horsepower. However, Volkswagen did not win.

"It is about time we settled the score. The I.D. R Pikes Peak represents an extremely exciting challenge for us, to show what is possible in motorsport with an electric drivetrain. The entire team behind our driver Romain Dumas is highly motivated to set a new record for electric cars."
—Volkswagen Motorsport Director, Sven Smeets

The record in the electric prototype class currently stands at 8:57.118 minutes, set in 2016 by New Zealand’s Rhys Millen.

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World Rallycross Championship all-electric in 2020

Volkswagen's push for the development of an all-electric rallycross supercar were revealed by EV News in March 2016 with plans for electric cars to be introduced into the World RX structure announced in August of last year, but a source has now indicated that electric cars will take the place of conventional internal combustion engine Supercars in the headline category after next year.

“Electric cars will be the world championship. They absolutely, categorically will be the world championship,” the source told Autosport.

“Fifteen cars are required to begin in 2020. Nine different manufacturers have been engaged in the discussions and negotiations so far, but the ability to buy the required components and build a car has to be open to privateer teams if they want to go that way too.”

It’s understood that the new electric cars will be based on a common carbon monocoque tub and safety structure that will be supplied as part of a chassis kit, expected to also include suspension and braking systems.

The FIA is expected to issue an invite to tender for the chassis kit in the coming weeks, with an additional invite to tender for batteries.

It’s believed that motors won’t be from a single supplier and neither will the composite body shells that will sit on top of the carbon chassis’, allowing for different models of cars to be used.

Competitive development of quad-motor all-wheel-drive torque vectoring electric powertrains could provide the missing link between electric motorsport and road-car technology.

Volkswagen have made clear that its electric Pikes Peak programme is designed as a learning project towards a future factory electric RX entry.

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Volkswagen is developing an all-electric race car for Pikes Peak 2018

Volkswagen is developing an all-electric race car for the world’s most famous mountain race, the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in Colorado, USA on 24 June 2018. The all-wheel-drive prototype’s goal is to set a new record for electric cars at the finish line, 14,000 feet above sea level. The new motorsport project is part of Volkswagen’s process of transforming itself into the leading producer of electric vehicles. By 2025, the Volkswagen brand will already offer 23 all-electric models.

"The Pikes Peak hill climb is one of the world’s most renowned car races. It poses an enormous challenge and is therefore perfectlly suited to proving the capabilities of upcoming technologies," explains Dr Frank Welsch, Member of the Board responsible for Development. "Our electric race car will be equipped with innovative battery and drive technology. The extreme stress test posed by Pikes Peak will give us important feedback that will benefit future development, and it will showcase our products and their technologies."

The vehicle is being developed by Volkswagen Motorsport in close cooperation with Technical Development in Wolfsburg. "The race on Pikes Peak is a new beginning for us. We are developing an all-electric race vehicle for the first time," explains Sven Smeets, Volkswagen Motorsport Director. "The project is also an important milestone in our new motorsport orientation. Our team is literally electrified about taking on this incredible challenge." Volkswagen Motorsport last participated in the Pikes Peak mountain race in 1987 with a spectacular twin-engined Golf which barely missed finishing. "It is high time for a rematch," continues Smeets.

The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb—which insiders also call the ‘Race to the clouds’—has been run since 1916 in the Rocky Mountains near Colorado Springs. The race course is 12.4 miles long, and it climbs 4,700 feet to the summit at just over 14,000 feet above sea level. The current record in the class of electric prototypes is 8 minutes 57.118 seconds, set by Rhys Millen in 2016.

Volkswagen to launch heavy-duty electric trucks and buses

Volkswagen Truck & Bus are working on electric solutions for use in both medium- and heavy-duty distribution transport and city buses. It will soon have a complete range of electric vehicles for the European market. The jointly developed e-drivetrain will form the basis of any electric architecture in the future.

This electric powertrain is designed in a way that means that it can be used to drive future distribution trucks and city buses manufactured by the Volkswagen Truck & Bus brands as a universal modular element. Navistar, Volkswagen’s strategic partner in the U.S., will also use the platform to be able to offer electric distribution trucks from 2019 onwards.

MAN is already well on its way to developing an electric distribution truck. “We plan to deliver the first nine fully electric trucks to our customers in Austria by the end of 2017 – including large supermarket chains, breweries and haulers.

Electric drives and distribution are a match made in heaven: The drives are quiet, do not produce any emissions locally, and are a perfect fit for customers’ requirements. Equally, demand for these types of vehicles has been on the rise. We will be launching the first small set of vehicles on the market at the end of 2018,” Joachim Drees, CEO of MAN Truck & Bus, explained.

World premiere in Hamburg for the electric distribution truck, the e-Delivery

With the fast-growing emerging economies in mind, another electrically powered distribution truck has been developed, which had its world premiere under the model designation Volkswagen e-Delivery at the Innovation Day. The e-Delivery is a modern truck for urban logistics designed to improve sustainability in the delivery of goods. It will be built at Volkswagen Caminhões e Onibus in Brazil in 2020. Roberto Cortes, CEO of MAN Latin America: “The e-Delivery marks a milestone in the history of Volkswagen Caminhões e Ônibus. This is a brand-new platform that was developed in Brazil with the aim of offering new mobility alternatives to large cities.”

Both MAN and Scania will be testing the module on pre-series production versions of a city bus that runs on electric batteries (BEV) under everyday conditions in several European cities. Series production of these electric buses is due to start before 2020. Both brands can already offer comprehensive advice on introducing electric mobility solutions, along with the necessary charging requirements for electric buses, to bus operators and communities. As part of this endeavor, the focus is on being able to offer a variety of options, such as charging the buses overnight in depots or charging mid-route at bus stops.

Initiatives are under way to find a different way to electrify heavy-duty trucks to make sure that their range and load capacity can become suitable for long-haul traffic. The buzzword for this area of development is “e-road”, which focuses on the use of overhead power lines, as in the rail sector. Trucks powered by overhead lines can run with zero emissions, and any batteries can be charged depending exactly on how many emission-free kilometers still lie ahead. A test route for electric Scania trucks already exists in Sweden. Test routes have also been announced in Germany.

Drive systems of the future will not be uniform, since their aim is to achieve an intelligent transition from diesel engines to alternative drive systems and fuels. “Volkswagen Truck & Bus has announced its aim of becoming number one in the field of alternative drive systems,” Andreas Renschler explained. “The company already has a broadly diversified portfolio, which offers the best possible foundation for this endeavor.”

Transparent structures, clearly defined goals and a wealth of both tried and tested expertise and pioneering technology: Volkswagen Truck & Bus is rapidly becoming a Global Champion. This three-pronged approach, which combines automated transportation, digital services, and environmentally-friendly alternative drive systems, will reduce costs, make rising transport volumes manageable and protect the environment. In implementing the approach, the Group and its brands will set new benchmarks and be able to offer the right solution for every customer.

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