Volkswagen has set out to make Spain one of the largest electric car manufacturers in Europe, only behind Germany. The German consortium, which has already begun to build its first battery factory in Salzgitter (northern Germany) and plans to start building the one in Sagunto (Valencia) at the beginning of 2023, plans to produce three million electric cars a year when all its European gigafactories (six) are fully operational in 2030, of which at least 800,000 (almost a third of the total) will be produced in Spain.
The Volkswagen Group expects the Sagunto battery factory, which will begin construction in the first quarter of 2023 and be operational in 2026, to have an annual capacity of 40 gigawatts per hour (20 GWh in a first initial phase), the same capacity that has been announced for Salzgitter. However, while the German gigafactory will allow the production of 500,000 cars, the Spanish one will allow some 800,000 to be assembled in the plants that the consortium has in Spain (half a million at Seat Martorell and another 300,000 at Volkswagen Navarra).
The key is in the size and capacity of the batteries. While the German gigafactory will produce large batteries (up to 77 kWh) for the group's most powerful SUVs and vehicles (such as the Cupra Born, the ID.3, the ID.4 or the ID.5, which are manufactured in the German city of Zwickau), smaller batteries (45 kWh or smaller) will be manufactured at the Valencian gigafactory for the future electric urban models of Cupra, Skoda and Volkswagen, which will be manufactured in Martorell and Landaben for the whole world.
In Spain, at least the model derived from the Cupra UrbanRebel EV Concept (which will replace the Seat Ibiza and Arona), the Volkswagen ID.1 and ID.2 (which will replace the Volkswagen Polo and T-Cross) and another zero model will be manufactured Skoda emissions that will replace the Fabia and Kamiq.
On the occasion of the groundbreaking ceremony for the Salzgitter gigafactory, the VW Group presented the standard factory concept for the first time. The Salzgitter cell factory will be a model for cell factories across Europe and will set new standards in terms of sustainability and innovation. "What we have put to the test, on many occasions, with vehicle platforms such as the MQB and MEB, will also lay the foundations for cell production: we are going to standardize and improve processes within the framework of European regulations. In this way, we will combine speed and cost optimization with the highest levels of quality," said PowerCo CEO Frank Blome.
Standardization will not only cover equipment, buildings and infrastructure, but also products, processes and information technologies. In this way, factories will be created that can be quickly converted for other product and production innovations. Each factory will run 100% on electricity from regenerative sources and will be designed for future closed-loop recycling.
Volkswagen also introduced the Prismatic Unified Cell, which was announced at Energy Day in 2021. This enables the flexible use of a number of different cell chemistries and will be used in up to 80% of all Group models. By 2030, the Volkswagen Group aims to operate, together with its partners, six cell factories with a total volume of 240 GWh across Europe, enough to produce three million electric cars a year. The new unified cell harnesses synergy effects and will reduce battery costs by up to 50%.