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VW Group mulls single battery design to slash EV, hybrid costs

by Justin King

The company\'s development head suggests a unified design could reduce battery costs by up to 66 percent.

Volkswagen Group is reportedly considering a unified battery design for electric vehicles and hybrids sold across all of its brands.

Switching to a common cell could reduce the battery costs by up to 66 percent, according to development head Heinz-Jakob Neusser. The cells could be configured into modules of varying capacity, presumably including the 48-volt systems required for electrified turbochargers or higher-voltage modules used in hybrids and pure EVs.

"We have a clear understanding in the group of a common cell," Neusser told Automotive News. "That means each member of the group, each brand, uses the same cell."

It is unclear if the executive is hinting at a switch to small cells, such as the popular '18650' cylindrical batteries that can be found in flashlights and laptop computers -- and the Tesla Model S when packaged by the thousands. The comments could also be a sign that VW Group is simply moving to a single supplier for larger cells, however a spokesperson suggested multiple suppliers could be tasked with building a single cell design.

The company has also invested in a startup, QuantumScape, that is developing solid-state batteries that could potentially deliver three times the energy density of traditional lithium-ion cells with a liquid electrolyte. Some energy experts cast doubt on claims of such breakthroughs, and General Motors' investment in Envia Systems serves as a cautionary tale.

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