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30 Apr 19

PSA and Saft to convert Opel plant into battery Gigafactory

To safeguard jobs and reduce dependence on Asian battery suppliers, France and Germany have allegedly asked the European Commission to approve state subsidies for a cross-border battery cell consortium involving PSA and Total subsidiary Saft, reports Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. It follows the announcement of PSA CEO Carlos Tavares, who told the French parliament’s economic affairs committee that his company “enthusiastically supports the creation of a European champion in battery development and manufacturing."

Both EU member states have set aside 1.7 billion euros in subvention to support industrial partnerships in the battery cell area, which today is dominated entirely by Korean, Chinese and Japanese suppliers. This is a dangerous situation, as demonstrated by today’s supply issues with the Audi e-tron.

The partners involved in the battery cell alliance are reportedly PSA and industrial battery producer Saft. The plan is to convert an Opel factory in Kaiserslautern, close to the German-French border, writes the German newspaper.

Ten Gigafactories by 2030

According to Autonews.com, more than 30 companies have applied for state funding at the German Economy Ministry, including VW, BMW, Varta and Northvolt.

Northvolt and Volkswagen Group announced a month ago they would be partners in a consortium called the European Battery Union. They want to have control over the entire battery value stream, from raw material extraction to cell production and recycling.

It is estimated that in view of the massive electrification that is to unfold over the next years, Europe would need at least ten Gigafactories to keep up with domestic EV production. By 2024, Northvolt will be able to produce 32GWh-worth of batteries, enough to power about half a million EVs.

Today, it is completing phase one, which equals 16GWh and an investment of roughly €1.6 billion. "We expect that the European market will have a yearly need of 500 to 600GWhs in 2030. If we consider the advancement of various plants, I expect there to be at least 10 gigantic plants in Europe by then," Northvolt CEO Peter Carlsson told Wirtschaftswoche.

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Authored by: Dieter Quartier