A battery pack consists of multiple battery modules, each of which typically contains 6 to 12 battery cells. Cells are the most cost-intensive component, representing approximately 70% of the total cost of battery packs. Today, most large automakers outsource cell production to battery producers. However, automakers typically perform module and pack assembly in-house and plan to continue doing so. Because modules and packs are critical to determining an EV’s range and charging rate, automakers want to control how the battery pack space is used and cooled. Going forward, battery packs will become an even more essential aspect of vehicle design.
The cost of cell production is measured as the ratio of manufacturing cost to energy content (measured in kWh). There are two main ways to reduce cell production costs: using advances in production accuracy and cell chemistry to increase energy content at the same volume and weight (that is, energy density) and applying factory-of-the-future concepts (which improve plant structure and processes and digitize the plant) to reduce manufacturing costs. These approaches can similarly be applied to module and pack assembly, enabling cost reductions at the overall battery level.
Cell Assembly. The assembly step is responsible for 20% of the production-related costs of battery cells. Overcoming the challenges of particle generation and processing stability are essential to prevent internal short circuits that render the cell permanently unusable. The lion’s share of costs relates to generating active material compounds. As noted, producers must use stacking technology in compound generation in order to achieve high energy densities. However, the complexity of stacking and the need to process compounds slowly to achieve accuracy makes it the largest cost factor of cell assembly.
By implementing the factory of the future, battery producers will counteract the lower prices that result from overcapacity and help the entire mobility industry realize the potential of EVs. Producers cannot count on superior cell chemistry to save their economics. To achieve profitability, they need to reduce manufacturing costs. The factory of the future comprises the technologies and systems required to accomplish this objective, driving cost reductions of up to 20%. The first producers to reap the rewards will emerge as the industry’s cost leaders. The race to the future of battery production starts today.