Everything you always wanted to know about battery module assembly... but were afraid to ask.
The electric car: a little history is in order
When do you think the very first electric vehicle was built? 1834! Before the invention of the internal combustion engine in 1861! In 1899, an electric car called the "Jamais Contente" broke the speed record by exceeding 100 km/h, and in 1900, a fleet of electric taxis was on the streets of New York. At the time, 38% of the American car market was captured by electric vehicles.
Incredible, isn't it?
The appearance in 1908 of the Ford T changed the situation. Despite Edison's invention of the iron-nickel battery in 1910, the electric car gave way to innovations and in the 1920s, the cheap internal combustion engine finally replaced the electric car.
It was not until the early 2010s that the electric vehicle began to be included in car manufacturers' ranges.
All eyes are now on 2035, when the sale of internal combustion vehicles is due to end in all European Union Member States .
The virtuosos of assembly
By 2022, more than 70% of the PEUGEOT range sold worldwide is electrified. More and more battery pack assembly experts are now essential in the factories where the vehicles are manufactured. They work on specific battery pack assembly lines, alongside the electric vehicle assembly lines. These highly specialised technicians embody Peugeot's Excellence and undergo extensive training before joining the factories in Spain, Slovakia or France.
Two hours in the life of a battery
By 2025, Peugeot estimates that its teams will be assembling up to 17,000 batteries per month for all vehicles. The battery assembly experts therefore have their work cut out for them!
The process of assembling the battery modules requires between 1h15 and 2h of work, depending on the model:
60 minutes for 50 kWh batteries;
90 minutes for 75 kWh batteries;
15 minutes of testing per battery before installation in the vehicle: functional, performance and leakage testing.
New generation batteries
The future of electric mobility starts today at Peugeot, with the new generation battery! This is a high voltage battery of 54 kWh (51 kWh useful), with a new chemical composition (80% Nickel - 10% Manganese - 10% Cobalt) and which operates at 400 Volts, allowing a range of over 400 km! This little technological marvel will be fitted to the e-308 saloon and the e-308 SW estate version. From 2023, the Peugeot e-208 will also benefit from this major technological development.
Three questions to an electric vehicle expert
Rémi SEIMPERE is the project manager for the electric vehicles of the Stellantis group. His role is to coordinate all the technical, industrial and logistical teams throughout the process of building electric vehicles. We asked him a few questions to find out more about the electrification of vehicles.
• Can you explain what a platform is in an electric vehicle?
One could say that the platform is everything that the driver does not see when he enters his electric vehicle. It is the structural part (called the underbody or chassis) to which the battery is attached, of course (which weighs about 350 kg), but also other elements such as the engine, the drive train, the gearbox, the axles, the cooling system, the electrical supply cables, etc.
The first Stellantis electric platform was launched in 2020. Its particularity is that it is made up of mechanical and transmission elements common to all the group's electric vehicles. The aim of this pooling is to allow an economy of scale and to be able to market electric models for each of the Stellantis Group's brands in a very short space of time.
• In your opinion, what is the main challenge in assembling an electric vehicle?
The real challenge we have already taken up is to manufacture electric vehicles on the same production lines as combustion vehicles. Today, most of the Stellantis Group's vehicle models have a combustion version and an electric version. The electric components are assembled at the same time as the combustion components. The idea is that the production line moves at the same speed for a combustion vehicle as for an electric vehicle. Thus, the same teams assemble either an electric vehicle or a combustion vehicle, depending on the programming of the line. This allows us to be flexible and to meet the growing demand for electric vehicles.
• In the coming years, what are the main changes expected in the field of electric vehicle batteries?
Historically, batteries have been manufactured in Asian countries such as China, South Korea and Japan. The big change is to have our own manufacturing, in Europe and in France.
The other main change is in battery performance. We are constantly working to increase the range: this is a key point in the innovations and changes to come in the future of electric mobility.
In the future, the battery ecosystem will change as dependence on Asia is reduced, at least geographically. With the advent of all-electricity fast approaching, research is progressing towards new batteries by improving on lithium-ion technology or proposing other substitutes that would not require heavy metals. Researchers are thinking in particular of lithium-air, lithium-sulphur and graphene batteries.
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