Production site for the ID.3 electric model at VW in Zwickau: battery technology is becoming a scarce, precious commodity
Photo: Alberto Bernasconi / laif
Volkswagen's future is hidden behind a barred sliding gate that is secured with two padlocks.
On an area of 2500 square meters, men and women with white construction helmets are installing a new high-tech laboratory that is closed to most visitors.
Cameras and cell phones are strictly forbidden, nothing should leak out prematurely.
Here in Salzgitter, Lower Saxony, in the backyard of a 50-year-old engine factory, VW is researching the heart of its electric cars: the battery cell.
The system still looks like a Playmobil space station.
In test chambers that look like monstrous ovens, newly developed cells are exposed to extreme heat and cold and are charged and discharged around the clock.
Thick, vacuum cleaner-like hoses dangle from the ceiling and are supposed to collect toxic substances.
The tables are so white, the light so bright, that every disturbing speck of dust is immediately noticeable.
In Salzgitter, what Frank Blome, head of the battery cell division at VW, calls a "game changer" is being developed, a groundbreaking technology that is intended to help e-mobility achieve the long-awaited breakthrough.
The project will help decide whether the world's largest automaker can still play a leading role in the post-combustion age - or whether Tesla will permanently relegate it to its place.
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