Under the microscope: Battery technology: Further technological leaps expected
The idea of battery-electric driving is almost as old as the motor car itself. The development of battery technology has moved from large, heavy and weak lead/acid batteries to compact, lightweight and powerful nickel/metal hydride (NiMH) accumulators. But it was only the introduction of lithium-ion technology in 2009 that brought the breakthrough in energy storage technology which makes electromobility a reality. The development, production and integration of the highly complex lithium-ion rechargeable batteries is one of the core areas of expertise of Daimler AG today. Further technological advances in batteries are expected in the coming decade through the introduction of post-lithium ion systems.
Lithium-ion technology is currently the most efficient battery technology available, and also shows plenty of potential for the future. No other battery technology meets the required parameters such as quality, output, service life and costs in the same measure. New technologies, and especially those aimed at material-related improvements, plus ever-increasing production volumes leading to further price decreases, will determine the evolutionary development stages of the next few years.
Thanks to the advance of lithium-ion technology, electric ranges of around 500 km are already within reach, and there is also scope for the charging times to be hugely reduced – thanks to rapid-charging technology. Researchers and developers all over the world are already working on the next generation of battery technology. The launch of what are known as post-lithium-ion systems can be expected within the coming decade. Be it cells with solid-state electrolytes, lithium metal anodes, or lithium sulphur systems - it is not yet clear what the successor technology will be.
However, with the launch of post-lithium-ion technology Daimler is expecting huge leaps forward with regard to costs and energy density. From today's perspective we envisage a cost level below €100 per kWh at battery system level by around 2025.
But the intelligence of the battery system is not merely in the cell, but in the entire system. This is comprised of control electronics including software, integrated cooling and the highly secure housing that is tailor-made for the vehicle and the cells. The development, production and vehicle integration of these highly complex rechargeable batteries are amongst Daimler AG's core areas of expertise.
Daimler AG already recognised at a very early stage that the availability of powerful battery systems will continue to play an enormously important role for the automotive industry in the future. With its subsidiary Deutsche Accumotive, established in 2009, the company is the only German manufacturer today with its own battery production, and the company is currently expanding its capacities on a broad basis with a second factory at the Kamenz site while also concentrating on establishing a global battery production network. (See separate chapter for details).
With an eye on the planned electric vehicle initiative as part of the product and technology brand EQ, Daimler AG is accelerating the establishment of a global battery production network with sites on three continents. In all the company will be investing over one billion euros in global battery production with two factories in Kamenz, Saxony and further sites in Stuttgart-Untertürkheim, Beijing and Tuscaloosa. Identical to vehicle production, the battery production network can react flexibly and efficiently to market demands. Individual sites supply local vehicle production and are, where necessary, prepared for export.