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Bosch decides against massive battery cell production plan for electric cars, even sells solid-state battery start-up

Bosch, one of the world’s largest automotive suppliers, has been exploring a plan to get into battery cell production in a big way to support the electrification of the industry.

The company announced today that it decided against the plan, but says that it still plans to “lead electromobility mass market from 2020” and it will focus on other electrical components.

Over a year ago, Bosch bought the solid-state battery start-up Seeo Inc. and has since been sparsely revealing details about its plan to bring new battery technologies to market by 2020 with a 50 kWh battery pack weighing only 190 kg, but it never committed resources to start producing cells.

Though in December 2017, the company confirmed that it was considering a €20 billion investment to create 200 GWh of battery cell production capacity by 2030. The move would have brought them to the same level or even higher than battery manufacturers like Panasonic, LG Chem, Samsung SDI, and CATL.

But Bosch announced today that they will not go through with the plan and that they will even completely divest their battery cell production assets.

Bosch executive Dr. Rolf Bulander commented:

“For Bosch, it’s important to have a technical understanding of cells. We don’t have to make them ourselves,”

They cite the “high risk” of such a large investment.

The company even announced that they will dissolve their ‘Lithium Energy and Power GmbH & Co. KG (LEAP)’ joint venture to develop lithium-ion technology and they will sell Seeo, their solid-state battery subsidiary.

Despite that, Bosch says that they still believe in solid-state battery technology. Dr. Mathias Pillin, who is responsible for electromobility activities at Bosch, added:

“Technically speaking, we’ve made excellent progress in our development work. Solid-state technology is the way forward,”

And the company claims that it is still committed to overall electrification.

Bulander commented:

“We want to be the go-to partner for electric driving. We are already a leader in the powertrain field – and we will be in the future as well,”

Bosh says that its “electrical powertrain components are already featured in more than 800,000 vehicles.”

Electrek’s Take

Well, that’s disappointing. Bosch really got our hopes up when it comes to an increase in battery cell production, but that’s a major setback here. A major increase in battery cell production is absolutely required in order to accelerate electric vehicle production.

It’s not just cars, almost every mode of transportation is currently being transitioned to battery-electric and the need for battery cell supply is going to be enormous.

Companies, like Tesla, Panasonic, LG Chem, Samsung SDI, CATL, and SK Innovations are doing their part, but I think there’s going to be plenty of room for new players. Northvolt is a good example.

But Bosch, a multi-billion dollar company, thinks it’s too risky. That’s OK. Other people will see that risk as a great opportunity and they will lead the world’s transition to electric transport.

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