Bosch pulls the plug on battery cell R&D, production

Bosch pulls the plug on battery cell R&D, production

Business news |
By Christoph Hammerschmidt

After careful consideration, the company decided against its own production, explained Rolf Bulander, head of Bosch’s automotive division Mobility Solutions. Instead, “Bosch will continue to buy cells and then refine them,” said Bulander. The decision comes as a surprise, as reports of a European cell production were circulating recently.

Now, Bosch considers such independent production to be unnecessary. “Cell production is not crucial to our success,” said Bulander. The extremely high investments required to set up such a production facility are too risky. Therefore, in the overall interest of the company, it was decided not to pursue these plans any further. Bosch also intends to dispense with cell research and related materials in the future. The start-up company Seeo, which Bosch took over just a few years ago and which, according to previous readings, had developed a promising technology for high-performance batteries, is now to be sold again. Seeo had developed a solid-state technology that, after further improvements, should offer twice the power density of today’s lithium-ion batteries – at half the cost. According to Bosch, Bosch has invested a mid three-digit million euro sum in the development of such batteries in recent years.

Bulander continues to assume that this technology can be mass-produced in the middle of the next decade, but the costs for further development are too high. The JV with GS Yuasa and Mitsubishi will also be discontinued. In the long term, it is to be expected that battery cells will be available on the market as a standardized mass product in the hands of cell producers from Asia such as Samsung SDI, Sanyo or Panasonic.

However, Bosch does not want to withdraw completely from developing batteries; instead, the company wants to establish a competence center for battery systems. However, only as many experts are to be employed there as necessary in order to be able to negotiate “on an equal footing” with suppliers.

Nevertheless, Bulander claimed the lead in electric mobility for his company. His strategy is based on the company’s comprehensive systems knowledge with its offering of key components such as engines and power electronics as well as expertise in energy management. 

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