The mobility rEVolution: Volkswagen taps quantum computing for battery research


Volkswagen and Canadian company Xanadu have established a multi-year research program to improve the performance of quantum algorithms for simulating battery materials. The goal is to reduce computational costs and accelerate Volkswagen’s adoption of quantum computers to develop battery materials that are safer, lighter, and more cost-effective. According to the German car maker, the two companies want to bring resource-efficient quantum algorithms to market maturity in the next decade. The Volkswagen and Xanadu collaboration has been underway since last year and the results of the first phase of the collaboration have already been published in the journal Physical Review A. The research report highlights the first estimation of the resources required to implement a quantum algorithm for simulating a realistic cathode material, dilithium iron silicate.

Foxconn is looking to leverage its manufacturing expertise and become a major EV maker in a bid to diversify its business. The chairman of the Taiwanese tech giant, best known for assembling Apple’s iPhone, said last week the company aims to manufacture Tesla cars for the major EV maker one day. “Based on our past records for the PC and cellphone markets — we’re at about 40–45% of the overall market share. So, ambitions-wise, hopefully we are able to achieve the same kind of achievement like in the information and communications technology industry, but we will start small, which is about 5% in 2025,” chairman Liu Young-Way said. He explained that Foxconn does not want to sell EVs as its own venture, but rather be a contract manufacturer for other companies with “a lot” of EVs, which it will manufacture in Taiwan, Thailand, and the U.S., where it already purchased the Lordstown Motors factory in Ohio in a partnership with the EV startup. The company is already negotiating with other partners in Indonesia and India, he added. According to Liu, Foxconn will leverage its “48 year old roots in ICT manufacturing” to slash design times for EVs in half and reduce development costs by a third.

BMW has pledged to invest $1.7 billion to build EVs in the U.S and signed a local battery cell supply agreement with Envision AESC. The investment will include $1 billion to build out production lines at BMW’s factory in Spartanburg, South Carolina. The remaining $700 million will go toward a new high-voltage battery assembly facility in Woodruff, South Carolina. At least six fully electric BMW models will be built in the US by 2030, the car maker said. BMW has also announced a partnership with Japanese battery specialist Envision AESC, which is going to build a lithium-ion cell manufacturing plant with an annual capacity of 30 GWh, also in South Carolina. BMW says that this plant will produce newly developed round cells, specifically designed for BMW’s sixth generation EVs made in its Spartanburg plant. The new cells will have 20% higher energy density and should charge 30% faster than the high-voltage lithium-ion cells BMW is currently using. The German car maker also said it plans to cut carbon emissions from cell production by 60% via greater use of recycled raw materials and renewable energy.

Rolls-Royce has unveiled its first fully-electric motor car, the Spectre. The luxury car maker said it had developed “the most exhaustive testing programme it had ever conceived”. It has subjected the Spectre EV to a journey of more than 2.5 million kilometers, simulating more than 400 years of use. In April, the Spectre completed its winter testing close to the Artic Circle. Preliminary data shows that the Spectre is expected to have an all-electric range of 520 kilometers WLTP and offer 900 Nm of torque from its 430 kW powertrain. It is anticipated to achieve 0-60 mph in 4.4 seconds (0-100km/h in 4.5 seconds). The final phase of manufacturing known as finessing should be concluded by the second quarter of 2023, and first customer cars will be delivered in the fourth quarter of 2023, the marque said. The Spectre’s starting price stands at $413,000. Rolls-Royce confirmed that by the end of 2030 its entire product portfolio will be fully electric.

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TotalEnergies and Valeo have teamed up to develop a novel EV battery cooling method. Conventional technologies don't allow for fluids to cool batteries from within, instead by means of special cooling plates or side walls, however, TotalEnergies has developed a new dielectric coolant that can be in direct contact with battery cells. Now, Valeo will bring its expertise in thermal systems “to design the best solution for integrating the coolant into the EV battery thereby optimizing performance by conditioning it to the right temperature,” it said. Valeo’s stated goal is to reduce the weight of the thermal systems used to cool vehicle batteries – reducing overall weight and boosting range.

The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded $2.8 billion in grants to 20 companies to produce EV batteries in the U.S.. The funds will support organizations that extract and process lithium, graphite and nickel, manufacture components, and demonstrate new approaches, including manufacturing components from recycled materials. Among other projects, the funding will support developing an electrode binder facility capable of supplying 45% of the anticipated domestic demand for binders for EV batteries in 2030, creating the first commercial scale domestic silicon oxide production facilities to supply anode materials for an estimated 600,000 EV batteries annually, as well as installing the first lithium iron phosphate cathode facility in the U.S. Individual project information can be found here

The German government has approved a plan to spend 6.3 billion euros ($6.1 billion) over three years to scale up the number of EV charging stations in the country. According to the plan, the number of charging stations should rise to 1 million by 2030 up from 70,000 now. It also aims to have 15 million EVs on the roads by 2030 from around 1.5 million now. Other measures in the government’s plan include speeding up state approvals to build charging points and providing real estate, especially along highways, where new charging stations can be built. Private EV owners will be offered subsidies to install solar PV on their rooftops so their cars can be charged overnight.

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