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Vehicle Battery of the Future


Vehicle Battery of the Future

Electric vehicles are rapidly gaining popularity worldwide, with electrified cars accounting for 30% of passenger car sales in 2023. The vehicle battery is responsible for approximately 40% of the related costs, making it a crucial factor for both range and performance. The trend from lithium-ion to solid-state batteries is gaining momentum, driven by rising demand for electricity and leading to the creation of new jobs. What does this mean for Germany as a hub for the automotive industry?

In our A·lounge Digital, Atreus Directors Stefan Randak and Robert Minge collaborated with battery specialists to explore the technological implications of the transformation, identify critical factors in the supply chain, production, and market diffusion, and discuss how these challenges can be addressed from a managerial standpoint.

The nine most important findings presented in the form of nine thesis statements:


1. Germany is just beginning to understand the significance of electric vehicles as energy storage solutions.

Through his company Bavertis, Dr. Manuel Kuder is working to prolong the service life of electric car batteries. “SUVs in particular must be seen as energy storage devices,” says Kuder. In Germany, the practices that Asian manufacturers have long been implementing are only just starting to be recognized. For electric vehicles, this means that “every electric vehicle should be equipped with a bidirectional charger.” This refers to a vehicle battery that is capable not only of recharging itself but also of supplying energy back to the power grid or to other loads.


2. The market for electric vehicles is still limited by a lack of range.

“Range anxiety has been a concern since the inception of electric vehicles,” says Matthias Zentgraf. He serves as Advisor to the CEO of the Chinese battery company CATL, which dedicates a significant portion of its revenue to advancing technologies that maximize the utilization of installation space within vehicles. Zentgraf cites the weight and the charging and discharging capacity of the battery as key factors determining the range of an electric car. For example, the entire battery cell industry is currently focused on developing series solutions that eliminate the need for separate modules, resulting in systems that only include a cell and battery pack. “The goal should be to increase the speed of the charging stations,” says Bavertis founder Kuder. Michael Reich, Global Head of Sales at grown-up LION Smart, suggests that range may not be the most decisive factor to consider: “Knowing which routes I need to drive makes range less important in the end.”


3. It will take a few more years for solid-state batteries to come into widespread use.

“The solid-state battery is on its way,” says CATL Advisor Zentgraf, “the only question is when it will truly arrive.” From the manufacturer’s perspective, the critical factors include validation and the significant safety risks associated with the vehicle. Additionally, the availability of raw materials is crucial, and they must be sourced in accordance with the Fair Battery standards. Zentgraf predicts that the next generation of batteries will be more affordable, lighter, and more energy-efficient from the start. Zentgraf also points out that Chinese manufacturers currently have a clear lead in battery production: “If you begin competing with them head-to-head at too late in the game, you may find that ‘the train already left the station.’”


4. What does an ideal production ramp-up look like? The short answer: It’s complex.

Arnstadt is home to Europe’s first and largest production facility for lithium-ion batteries. Production spans a distance of 540 meters, starting from the incoming material and ending at the finished cell. CATL Advisor Zentgraf describes the significant obstacles faced in ramping up production capacity: The buildings require cleanroom conditions, precise temperature control, and low humidity, and the energy requirements are enormous. Managing production in line with call-off figures and upholding quality standards while manufacturing millions of cells annually is a highly complex process. “Everyone wants a perfect production ramp-up, but if only it were that easy…” says Zentgraf.


5. Service life beats recycling: Batteries should remain in use for as long as possible.

Stefan Randak, a partner at Atreus, cites McKinsey’s prediction that 100 million electric vehicle batteries will be retired over the next decade. Matthias Zentgraf suggests that achieving a 98 percent recovery rate through the recycling of old battery packs could be the answer. However, Bavertis CEO Kuder emphasizes that doing that alone is not the solution. “The goal must be to use the batteries for as long as possible. We are currently aiming to extend the service life by 80 percent.” He views the EU Battery Act as a step in the right direction towards regulating the sustainability, performance, and safety of batteries in a comprehensive manner – as the production of second-life batteries involves great complexity.

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Matthias Zentgraf
Advisor to the CEO, CATL Europe

„Everyone wants a perfect production ramp-up, but if only it were that easy …“

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6. The success of a sustainable battery supply chain hinges on the cooperatin of all stakeholders.

Supply bottlenecks, price fluctuations, unevenly distributed deposits, problems with sustainability: The raw materials for batteries are a complex factor for e-mobility, as Atreus Advisor Dr. Sabine Lutz points out. First of all, a sustainable supply chain must be transparent, which is anything but a trivial matter given its complexity. She recommends joining initiatives such as Catena-X for raw material certification or Responsible Mining Assurance for responsible mining practices. Secondly, it is wise to prioritize regional supply chains with the principle of “local for local” in mind – in other words, you need to source raw materials from where production takes place. Thirdly, it is crucial for partnerships to be established: Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and cell manufacturers must increase their strategic engagement in the upstream supply chain. According to Lutz, leading manufacturers are already striving for a high degree of vertical integration, extending “all the way down to the mine.”

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7. Battery management systems will undergo significant advancements in the coming years.

Battery management systems (BMS) ensure that batteries are neither overcharged nor overly discharged and that they are not charged too quickly or at temperatures that are too cold, explains Bavertis founder Kuder. Innovative BMS also have the ability to monitor and manage individual battery cells, allowing for the future collection of extensive battery data in real-world applications. Currently, only the voltage can be measured. “The BMS should have the capacity to perform remote diagnostics,” says battery expert Jens Pohl. He also believes that artificial intelligence (AI) in BMS presents a significant opportunity. And Michael Reich from LION Smart reports that his company can draw on several billion kilometers of field experience thanks to a partnership with BMW.


„It’s all about getting things done – the industry doesn’t need elaborate strategies; it needs managers who can deliver results.“


8. Battery production is an employment factor to be reckoned with.

Stefan Randak predicts that around 800,000 employees in the automotive industry could face layoffs in the coming years. Former automotive employees may find battery cell production to be an exciting career opportunity. In Germany, the majority of the relevant factories are located in the new federal states, Baden-Württemberg, and southeastern Bavaria. What employment opportunities are available? Matthias Zentgraf finds everything to do with modules, packs, logistics, and quality management to be fascinating. He also finds achieving climate neutrality through the conversion to renewable energies to be exciting, even though the endeavor is quite challenging from a technical standpoint. Manuel Kuder from Bavertis is mainly seeking embedded developers and battery chemists, while Michael Reich from LION Smart is specifically looking for individuals “who tackle what needs doing and get results – people who maintain a clear overview and focus on achieving the end goal.”


9. Suitable interim managers have excellent prospects in the battery production sector.

Battery manufacturing is also an exciting field of work for interim managers, many of whom possess a broad range of skills and expertise. Expert Jens Pohl highlights the high demand for hardware and software developers, especially on the development side. He also sees project management for development, industrializing production, and automation as excellent areas for interim managers to work in. “It’s all about getting things done,” says Atreus Director Robert Minge, “the industry doesn’t need elaborate strategies; it needs managers who can deliver results.”

Our panelists

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Matthias Zentgraf
Advisor to the CEO, CATL Europe

The graduate engineer can look back on numerous management positions at suppliers such as Siemens VDO and Continental. Most recently, he served as the Regional President of CATL Europe and currently supports the company as “Advisor to the CEO.”

CATL, also known as Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Limited, is the largest Chinese manufacturer of lithium-ion batteries. The company is now also ranked among the top ten largest automotive suppliers globally.

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Jens Pohl
Partner, Smart Battery Solutions

The graduate engineer can look back on numerous management positions at manufacturers such as Daimler and suppliers such as Voith. He served most recently as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and today as the current Partner of Smart Battery Solutions GmbH. Furthermore, he serves on multiple supervisory and advisory boards in the manufacturing industry and at reputable consulting firms.

Smart Battery Solution GmbH is a mid-sized German company that specializes in providing battery solutions for a variety of applications. The company was recognized as a Growth Champion 2023 (Europe’s Fastest Growing Companies 2023). The company’s slogan is “Power wherever you want.”

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Michael Reich
Global Head of Sales, LION Smart

The graduate engineer has held various management roles at suppliers such as Plastic Omnium and OSRAM and currently serves as Head of Global Sales at LION Smart GmbH.

LION Smart is a battery technology company specializing in the development of lithium-ion battery systems for electric vehicles. Lion Smart is expanding its involvement in battery development by establishing TÜV Süd Battery Testing GmbH in collaboration with TÜV Süd AG.

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Dr. Manuel Kuder
Co-Founder & CEO / Bavertis GmbH

Kuder holds a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering and Neuroengineering and serves as the Co-Founder and CEO of Bavertis GmbH, a company that originated as a spin-off of the University of the Federal Armed Forces in Munich. He is an expert in the field of battery management. In addition to his development work for Bavertis, he continues to work at the University of the German Armed Forces.

Bavertis is a start-up company that is developing a software-controlled battery ecosystem to increase the battery life of electric vehicles by as much as 80%. Artificial intelligence uses highly precise battery data generated by a separate microchip within the vehicle’s battery.

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