September 6th, 2023 | 09:00 CEST
Insider report shocks investors: Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz, Altech Advanced Materials
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"[...] We know exactly what we are doing and are implementing what we consider to be a proven technology in an industrially applicable and scalable way. [...]" Uwe Ahrens, Director, Altech Advanced Materials AG
China's automotive market: Access versus knowledge
In the course of the current reporting on the German automotive industry, Ippen.Media has republished an insider report from the "China.Table Professional Briefing" from March. In it, a high-ranking insider at Mercedes-Benz outlines the major challenges in the Chinese market. According to the report, the joint ventures between German automakers and local Chinese companies, which have been obligatory for many years, have resulted in a massive transfer of knowledge to the People's Republic. Chinese companies are now using this knowledge to be competitive and even outperform German manufacturers in certain areas. Particularly in software, including assistance systems, autonomous driving and connectivity, cars from China are now ahead. While Mercedes was the first manufacturer to receive Level 3 certification for autonomous driving for the US market in January of this year, Chinese manufacturers in Shenzhen have long been testing at Level 5.
VW and Mercedes remain confident
Even when it comes to gimmicks, such as the so-called Sleeper function, in which Chinese customers can create a pleasant ambience in the car for a midday nap at the push of a button, German manufacturers are not keeping up, according to the insider report. While the Chinese competition implements what is possible, German engineers carefully weigh the pros and cons at length. In the end, BYD's car has a Sleeper Function, while that of a German manufacturer does not. Confronted with this criticism, representatives of the German automotive industry remain relaxed and point out that the Chinese market is still developing its potential in the luxury class. German manufacturers are confident they are still the leaders in key car features.
Altech Advanced Materials wants to score with batteries
However, in order to maintain this lead in the age of electromobility, carmakers such as Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz and others will have to invest in software and networking just as much as in the actual powertrain. There are opportunities to score points in the area of battery technology. For example, German manufacturers have discovered consumption as a unique selling point. Upcoming models from German manufacturers will all score in this area. BMW even wants to become the world champion in fuel economy and outpace both Tesla and the Chinese company BYD. The Heidelberg-based company Altech Advanced Materials, for example, coats the anode material of electric car batteries with ultra-thin aluminum oxide, thus increasing safety, service life and battery performance.
Altech is currently working on the industrial production of such coated anodes. The Company is currently building a pilot plant in Schwarze Pumpe, Saxony. In addition to battery technology for electric cars, this plant will also be used for huge electricity storage systems that could serve as buffers for wind turbines or solar parks. What is unique about the technology that Altech Advanced Materials is driving forward together with the Fraunhofer Institute is that it is non-flammable and does not require critical raw materials. For the German automotive industry to continue to be perceived as technically ambitious, innovations are crucial. Innovations like the ones Altech has in its portfolio. Above all, topics such as performance, range, and economy are suitable as unique selling points for premium manufacturers.
While 2023 was rather unpleasant for shareholders of Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz, Altech shareholders have reaped a return of more than 100% on a six-month view. The companies also resemble two heavy tankers versus a speedboat when it comes to future prospects. While German automakers are still debating the best way forward, Altech Advanced Materials offers solutions for tomorrow with innovative battery technology.
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