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Based on growth, a German Battery Making firm will be moving to U.S.

Since electric vehicles (EVs) began its takeoff of gasoline vehicles worldwide in pursuit of reducing the carbon oxides emissions. AKASOL AG, a German firm has positioned itself as a major supplier of batteries for the modern EVs, primarily for the commercial EVs.

Since the majority of the company’s current market is in Europe because more and more cities are making the transition to low- and zero- carbon emission vehicles compulsory, AKASOL believes the U.S. could be another ground for expansion based on the trending adoption of the EVs.

Specialized with the making of the liquid-cooled, compact battery system, the firm is working on one major U.S. partnership in hand and believes in the future potential of U.S. EVs battery consumption. Hence, the company is searching for the site of its first American manufacturing plant.

AKASOL just finished an IPO last year and has strong financial support for the partnership they will need for their anticipated growth. According to financial analysts, revenues will increase to $200 million by 2022 from about $70 million this year.

AKASOL was founded originally as a non-profit company back in 1990 at Germany’s Technical University of Darmstadt, therefore, the company has been at this time long. They came into batteries technology in a very round-about way. According to the AKASOL CEO Sven Schulz, “our original goal was to participate in the world championships in solar car racing”. However, the founding group of researchers-Schulz and three partners was soon heavily involved in racing and according to Schulz, “we won three times in a row”.

However, the group got bored with racing and made the decision to focus instead on EV technology. They successfully developed and built various types of EV components through 2007. As at 2008, a decision was made to spin off as a commercial entity. The new organization remained involved with a variety of components, including power trains and battery charging systems, but focused primarily on the batteries themselves. According to the CEO, the making of batteries for 24/7 operation of a vehicle entails so many challenges which include safety, range, and many other considerations. However, today the sales volume includes only about 10 percent non-battery components.

electric car and its batteries
An Electric at its charging station. Samples of electric car batteries

Meanwhile, Schulz noted that the company has its own challenges which they are currently facing, to him, the challenges are what lots of people would love to have. Order backlog is one of them. The company currently has orders for 1.7 billion US dollars’ worth of batteries from 2019 – 2024. “I think this is actually a luxury situation, we have the clients, we have the contracts; all we have to do is to execute,” Schulz stated.

The CEO noted that the firm needs to grow its production capacity to quickly meet up with the growing demands and contracts already on their table. From the existing 200 megawatt hours (MWh) per year in battery manufacturing capacity, the firm is expecting growth to 300 MWh by mid-year and to 800 MWh next year. Besides that, the firm is also busy growing their supply chains logistics capabilities. “We are working on finding the right people at the right, and we are also working on finding the right suppliers, who can get us what we need now, and who have the ability to handle our expected growth.”

Battery technology and its processes is a challenging job. Almost every day there is someone announcing a new miracle, a save-the-world technology. But there is no one-size-fits-all battery. We have technology with different specs, different chemical solutions, and different features. Our tech has a great future, with a variety of solutions. Our customers ask us if we have the right technical solution for them, and we can answer emphatically yes. That is a difference between us and other battery suppliers-others are focused on just one technology.” Schulz stated. AKASOL has maintained a close tie to the Technical University of Darmstadt as a research partner.

Commercial vehicles in Europe is the main driver of AKASOL’s business growth currently. Many European cities have passed laws requiring a transition to zero- or low-emission vehicles only in coming years. Though the U.S. seems not to have that level of political pressure, the firm has a confidential partnership in place with a global commercial vehicle manufacturer from Europe with major activities in North America.

The intention is to build a close business relationship together and to meet the partner’s requirements. According to the company CEO, Schulz, AKASOL has narrowed it down to two possible locations. The AKASOL’s U.S. manufacturing site which will be in establishment soon will have two American locations. The company expects to make the final decision of the location later this year.

“People should know about the tremendous disruption that is coming in commercial vehicles. It is not just about electric vehicles, hybrids and fuel cell vehicles are inclusive. The potential is huge. It is not just about environmental protection, but about the total cost of ownership.” The CEO, Schulz anticipates for even great coming opportunities in the battery business.

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