Market Study: PEM Highlights Battery Cell Production Trends


The chair "Production Engineering of E-Mobility Components" (PEM) of RWTH Aachen University, together with its spin-off "PEM Motion", has developed a white paper on future battery production on behalf of the German engineering company Manz AG. The market study highlights six trends regarding the process step of cell contacting that should make battery cell production more economical in the coming years.

  An expert tests an electric vehicle battery Copyright: © Adobe Stock | romaset

"The demands on manufacturers of cell contacting systems will change as fundamentally as the battery systems themselves," says co-author and PEM Chief Engineer Dr. Christian Offermanns. According to him, some of this is already apparent in the vehicles that will be released during 2022. "On the one hand, energy density will be increased by using fewer materials that are not actively involved in energy storage, and on the other hand, assembly costs will be reduced by making the systems simpler, more uniform and made up of fewer components," Offermanns says. This would also increase unit volumes and reduce costs.

Trend No. 1: Cell-to-X approaches ensure efficiency

The current division of battery systems into battery cell, module, and pack will be replaced in the future by cell-to-x architectures: In the cell-to-pack approach, the battery cells are integrated directly into the battery pack and thus connected directly to form a pack, which enables simpler production and better heat dissipation in addition to higher energy density. In the cell-to-chassis model, the battery cells are installed directly in the underbody of the vehicle, fusing the battery pack to the chassis and reducing weight as well as increasing safety. In contrast, the module-to-chassis method integrates already assembled battery modules into the vehicle's underbody, making the design more flexible and facilitating maintenance by making it easier to replace modules.

Trends Nos. 2 and 3: More energy and pre-assembly

A second trend is to increase the energy content of battery cells. For cell contacting systems this means that assemblies are increasing in size and have a higher degree of integration to minimize the number of steps and costs involved in module assembly. The third trend manifests itself in fully pre-assembled cell contacting systems, so that automotive manufacturers have to spend less downstream effort in battery module and system production. In the future, machine and system builders should have pre-assembly concepts at their disposal that enable the numerous individual components to be manufactured cost-effectively and reliably.

Trends Nos. 4 and 5: Local battery production and greater specialization

In addition, more locally oriented battery production will shorten future supply chains. This predicted trend is based on the observation that vehicle manufacturers already prefer the shortest possible transport routes for battery cells, modules, and systems. For the production of cell contact systems, location factors such as favorable supply chain and production conditions, the availability of skilled workers and an intact service network in mechanical and plant engineering are therefore coming to the fore. However, cell contact systems themselves would remain a product with a low degree of standardization and great potential for differentiation between the individual vehicle manufacturers and battery cell formats. Consequently, there will not be a concentration on a few manufacturers, but rather many of them will specialize in the different requirements of battery cell formats and system design.

Trend No. 6: Significant increase in 800-volt systems

A sixth trend is higher voltages and thus a higher incidence of 800-volt battery systems. Starting from the premium vehicle segment, these systems would gradually also become established in vehicles for the mass market. Accordingly, the market share of 800-volt battery systems in new registrations would exceed the 50-percent mark in the second half of the 2020s.

Free download of the study

The market study is available for free download on the website of Manz AG.