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Volkswagen casts an all-star battery team: from Apple from battery boss Soonho Ahn, from BMW cell expert Jörg Hoffmann


The car manufacturer is strengthening the new PowerCo battery division - and is casting an all-star team. That's why Soonho Ahn from Apple comes. And cell expert Jörg Hoffmann is moving from BMW to Wolfsburg.

Enlarge image

Cell production

: Volkswagen employees in a clean room for battery

cell production

in Salzgitter.

Photo: Julian Stratenschulte / dpa

When it comes to the drive of the future, Volkswagen boss

Herbert Diess

(63) and his Chief Technology Officer

Thomas Schmall

(57) regularly


to high voltage. Together with partners, they want to build six plants for battery cells in Europe this decade, creating capacities for around 4 million electric cars a year. Volkswagen will in future be one of the three largest manufacturers of battery cells worldwide, Diess dropped in a subordinate clause in July. And Schmall can imagine bundling the battery business in the PowerCo and thus going on the capital market.

The works are not yet standing.

Production at Northvolt in Sweden should go into large-scale production in 2024;

the first completely own plant in Salzgitter will probably not start before 2025.

However, it seems that the plans have made a good impression on the stars of the scene.

Volkswagen has poached two top people from the competition.

In particular, the name

Soonho Ahn

should electrify the community.

Ahn was previously the battery boss at the US tech company Apple, where he was probably also involved in Apple's secret car project "Titan".

According to insiders, the Korean will lead the future of battery cell development for the Germans.

Ahn is considered one of the scene's superstars. For many years he worked as a top developer for the market leader LG Energy System. After a year at the University of Ulsan, he moved to Korean competitor Samsung in 2015 to build "next generation" lithium-ion batteries. In 2019 he joined Apple as Global Head of Battery Development. The Americans have been working on their own car project for a number of years. Improved battery technology should reduce costs and increase the range of the model at the same time, Apple insiders confirmed at the end of 2020.

At VW, Ahn will meet another prominent newcomer:

Jörg Hoffmann

, who was previously head of program management for solid fuel cells at competitor BMW, is also switching to Volkswagen. At VW, he will be responsible for the industrialization of solid-state cells in future battery generations. Hoffmann was previously responsible for the production of battery and fuel cells at the Munich company. Unlike Volkswagen or Daimler, BMW has so far not set up its own large-scale production, but is one of the leading companies in cell development.

Ahn and Hoffmann are completing a kind of all-star team that Volkswagen is currently getting together. It is managed by

Frank Blome

(52), who will be responsible for battery cells at Daimler until the end of 2017. Three months ago, Blome and Schmall, Chief Technology Officer, had already


Sebastian Wolf

, who had been European head of the Chinese cell start-up Farasis until then. Wolf is now responsible for building the six cell factories at Volkswagen.

In the next generation of batteries, the group wants to equip around 80 percent of its own vehicles with a uniform cell format and thus reduce costs by 50 percent by the end of the decade.

The Wolfsburg-based company has already participated in two battery start-ups.

They each hold around 20 percent of the Swedish newcomer Northvolt and the Chinese company Gotion.

Northvolt was valued at a good 10 billion euros when it was last raised;


Peter Carlsson

(51) is planning an IPO in the medium term.

Volkswagen estimates the cost of building the European plants at around 25 billion euros.

Diess and Schmall are therefore also considering partial financing via the capital market.

Source: spiegel

All news articles on 2021-11-25

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