Porsche to develop battery cells for EV motorsports

It says its smaller, silicon-anode based cells could be fully charged in less than 15 minutes.

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36 LOTTERER Andre (GER), TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team, Porsche 99X Electric, action during the ABB Formula E Championship official pre-season test at Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia on November 28, 29 and December 1 in Spain.  (Photo by Xavier Bonilla/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
NurPhoto via Getty Images

Porsche's shift to electrification could boost its motorsports output. The German automaker has announced a joint venture to develop and produce battery cells for race cars and a small batch of high-end production vehicles. Porsche will make a high double-digit million euro investment in the "Cellforce" project, Chief Executive Officer Oliver Blume said at a press conference, reports Autoblog

The new cells will be able to charge in less than 15 minutes, which is significantly faster than the 22.5 minutes it takes to charge the Porsche Taycan battery to 80 percent from 5 percent, according to Bloomberg. Porsche previously revealed that it would use a silicon-based anode instead of the customary graphite in a bid to boost power density and reduce the battery's overall size. The changes should be a good fit for motorsports, where the size and weight of a vehicle and quick refueling is critical to winning races. Porsche made the jump to the electric Formula E championship for the 2019/20 season. 

Like the rest of the automotive industry, the company is going all-in on electrification. Porsche previously said that it expects at least 80 percent of its vehicles sold globally to be partially or fully electric by 2030. To get there, Porsche is spending $15 billion on electric mobility along with digital services. 

Its partner on the battery project is lithium-ion specialist Customcells, whose facilities in Tübingen, South-West Germany are close to Porsche's headquarters in Stuttgart. Reports, which have been swirling in the German media since last fall, previously indicated that the Tübingen site would serve as the location for the battery production plant. The German government has now virtually made that a certainty by contributing around $71 million to the project in exchange for the factory being located in the south of the country. Porsche said it will own 83.75 percent of Cellforce, compared to Customcells' 16.25 percent minority stake.

Blume made it clear, however, that the project would not match the scale of Tesla's Gigafactories. The small-scale plant would produce around 100 megawatt-hours of annual capacity, the CEO said, enough for around 1,000 sports cars per year. The tech developed by the venture will trickle down to Porsche's high-performance derivatives of existing cars. Though the company played down any large-scale transference at the outset.

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