During Volkswagen’s recently-held Power Day, the veteran German automaker announced that it would be utilizing a new unified prismatic battery for its upcoming electric vehicles. This move reportedly alarmed battery suppliers LG Energy Solution and SK Innovation, both of which have already invested heavily in pouch battery production sites in the US, Europe, and Asia.
Volkswagen’s shift to prismatic batteries was reportedly shared with LG and SK just days before Power Day. Sources familiar with the matter who spoke to Reuters recently stated that the German carmaker’s decision came as a shock to the two South Korean battery makers.
LG reportedly attempted to send an executive to Germany to discuss Volkswagen’s shift to prismatic cells, but the automaker reportedly dissuaded the South Korean supplier from doing so. Needless to say, executives from LG and SK were concerned about Volkswagen’s lack of consultation about its battery shift, considering that such a strategy is a big break against tradition.
“It’s not our everyday business routine to get such one-sided notice from a partner… People seemed to be pretty alarmed,” one of the sources said.
Volkswagen executive Thomas Schmall noted this week that the company would be keeping its current contracts, though he did state that about 80% of its post-2025 generation of EVs would be using prismatic batteries. As noted in an Automotive News report, Schmall also remarked that it would not be a big deal for battery suppliers to switch to prismatic cell production.
Analysts suggest otherwise, noting that shifting from pouch to prismatic cell production would require a significant amount of reinvestment. A considerable amount of time is also needed to overhaul battery production facilities.
SK Innovation, which announced a contract to supply pouch cells to Volkswagen in 2018, has noted that it currently has no plans to produce prismatic batteries. SK currently provides pouch cells for automakers Hyundai Motor and Kia.
LG, on the other hand, already produces prismatic cells for consumer goods like laptops. However, the company has so far not announced if it plans to make prismatic cells for electric vehicles. LG currently stands as a battery supplier for Hyundai Motor and General Motors.
LG is also one of Tesla’s suppliers, supplying the EV maker with cylindrical batteries. LG has taken a rather aggressive stance with its Tesla business, indirectly challenging Panasonic and remarking that it intends to become the electric car maker’s primary battery supplier in the future.
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