As the Volkswagen Group pivots to battery manufacturing, Porsche is taking on a new niche—battery cells for racing.
The automaker announced Monday that it will invest a “high double-digit million amount” in a new corporate entity called Cellforce Group GmbH, which will produce high-performance battery cells as part of a joint venture between Porsche and battery firm Customcells.
“The battery cell is the combustion chamber of the future,” Porsche chairman Oliver Blume said in a statement. “This is how we shape the future of the sports car.”
2020 Porsche Taycan
The cells in question will use a new silicon anode, which Porsche claims will provide greater energy density than current series-production cells by reducing internal resistance.
This battery chemistry will also better withstand high temperatures, making it better suited to potential motorsports applications, according to Porsche. The new chemistry hasn’t proven itself in sub-zero temperatures, and it’s unclear if it will have a comparable lifespan to current lithium-ion cells, but those aren’t really important factors in racing, Porsche noted.
Porsche has said that batteries remain too heavy for its smaller sports cars, so if it can achieve suitable reliability, this new technology might offer some future solutions to that dilemma. It could also put the firm in a good position should battery chemistry become an open area of development in motorsports. Porsche currently races in Formula E, but the series requires all teams to use a spec battery battery pack.
The join venture, which Porsche holds an 83.75% stake in, is headquartered in Tübingen, Germany. A site for the battery factory hasn’t been finalized, but it’s slated to be near Porsche’s research and development hub in Weissach, and the automaker’s own headquarters in Zuffenhausen.
Battery from the Porsche Taycan Turbo S
The Federal Republic of Germany and the state of Baden-Württemberg will also provide funding, to the tune of €60 million (about $71 million at current exchange rates), Porsche said.
Porsche said at VW’s battery day that it would be in charge of high-performance cells and battery know-how for the entire Volkswagen Group.
The VW Group as a whole has been pivoting to become a battery producer, with niche technologies including solid-state cells included in the shift. The latter includes continued investment in startup QuantumScape, which has promised breakthroughs with its solid-state cells.