Cellforce Group GmbH: Joint Venture between Porsche and CUSTOMCELLS
The latest step in the electric offensive: Porsche is investing a high double-digit million amount in the new company Cellforce Group GmbH. Porsche and joint venture partner CUSTOMCELLS announced the launch of production of high-performance battery cells at the Weissach Development Centre. CUSTOMCELLS is one of the world’s leading companies in the development of special lithium-ion battery cells.
“The battery cell is the combustion chamber of the future. As a new Porsche subsidiary, the Cellforce Group will be instrumental in driving forward the research, development, production and sales of high-performance battery cells,” says Oliver Blume, Chairman of the Executive Board at Porsche. “This joint venture allows us to position ourselves at the forefront of global competition in developing the most powerful battery cell and make it the link between the unmistakable Porsche driving experience and sustainability. This is how we shape the future of the sports car.”
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On the political side, Winfried Kretschmann, Minister President of Baden-Württemberg, Thomas Bareiß, Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy and Boris Palmer, Mayor of the City of Tübingen, accompanied the official start of the company foundation. On the part of the companies involved, Oliver Blume, CEO of Porsche AG, Michael Steiner, Porsche Board Member for Research and Development, as well as Leopold König and Torge Thönnessen, the managing directors of Customcells Itzehoe GmbH, were on site. The new venture, in which Porsche has a majority stake of 83.75 per cent, has its headquarters in Tübingen. The university town is also on the shortlist for the location of the battery factory, which is to be located in close proximity to the research and development center in Weissach as well as the headquarters of Porsche AG in Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen. The number of employees is expected to grow from the initial workforce of 13 provided jointly by both companies to up to 80 by 2025. The Federal Republic of Germany and the state of Baden-Württemberg are funding the project with around 60 million euros.
“We founded CUSTOMCELLS with the aim of developing customer-specific battery cells for the most demanding of applications, and this is exactly what we can now realise together with Porsche. The goal for the planned production plant is to reach a minimum annual capacity of 100 MWh. This is equivalent to high-performance batteries for 1,000 vehicles,” according to Torge Thönnessen, CEO of CUSTOMCELLS. “We are not only contributing our expertise in cell technology and production into our partnership with Porsche, but also agility, innovative strength and individual problem-solving skills,” says Leopold König, CEO of CUSTOMCELLS.
“Porsche was founded as an engineering and development office in Stuttgart in 1931. To this day, you cannot purchase the technology that is at the heart of our high-performance sports cars. We develop it ourselves,” says Michael Steiner, Member of the Executive Board, Research and Development at Porsche. “That is why it is only logical for us to develop and build the key technology of the future – the battery cell – ourselves. It is just as logical that we first test this new high-tech in the most competitive of environments – motorsport. Our electric sports car Taycan also received key developments and its leading technical features from the race track, from the Le Mans-winning Porsche 919 Hybrid.”
The road to the joint venture and the partners
The idea for a manufacturing plant for high-performance battery cells came from an initiative of the P3 Group. The Stuttgart-based management consultancy developed the concept and submitted in 2019 a funding application with CUSTOMCELLS as part of the European IPCEI project EuBatIn (Important Project of Common European Interest – European Battery Innovation), which aims to build up a competitive European value chain for lithium ion batteries, based on innovative and sustainable technologies. From the automotive industry Porsche got involved as a project partner. This year P3 Group decided to maintain neutrality and independence in the market and not to be directly involved in the joint venture. P3 acts as a technology consultancy with a deep technical understanding in the field of battery cells and has concluded a long-term service contract with the Cellforce Group.
The idea for a manufacturing plant for high-performance battery cells came from the Stuttgart-based management consultancy P3 Group and CUSTOMCELLS, which already operates a small-scale production facility in Tübingen. In 2019, P3 and CUSTOMCELLS as part the autumn IPCEI EuBatIn (Important Project of Common Interest – European Battery Innovation). Porsche joined as a project partner from the automotive industry. For strategic reasons, P3 Group decided this year to act only as an external partner in order to continue working as an independent consultant with an in-depth technical understanding of the field of battery cells. Cellforce Group has signed a long-term service agreement with P3.