Nov 9 (Reuters) - Germany has earmarked 1 billion euros ($1.2 billion) to support a consortium looking to produce electric car battery cells and plans to fund a research facility to develop next-generation solid-state batteries, three sources told Reuters.
The measures, expected to be announced by Economy Minister Peter Altmaier next week, are designed to reduce the dependence of German carmakers on Asian battery suppliers and protect German jobs at risk from the shift away from combustion engines.
Below are details of plans to establish electric vehicle (EV) battery plants in Europe:
The Swedish company, headed by a former Tesla executive, aims to build Europe’s biggest lithium-ion battery factory, producing 32 gigawatt hours (GWh) of battery cells a year by 2023, rivalling Tesla’s U.S. “gigafactory”.
It has partnered with German carmaker BMW ahead of plans to raise 1.5 billion euros in debt and equity to build an initial 8 GWh of capacity and has asked for a 400 million euro loan from the European Investment Bank.
German industrial giant Siemens is helping to build the factory. Northvolt will become its preferred supplier for lithium-ion batteries when production starts in 2020.
Northvolt is also planning a factory in Poland to produce battery systems for energy storage companies and the mining industry. The plant in Gdansk would take cells from the Swedish factory and use them to develop battery systems or modules.
A Northvolt spokesman said the company was not involved in talks to forge a German-led consortium, but he said Northvolt would welcome more alliances in Europe.
U.S. electric carmaker Tesla favours Germany as the location for its first European gigafactory, its chief executive Elon Musk said in July.
Tesla already has operations in Pruem, Germany, with its Grohmann Automation division that specialises in automated manufacturing systems for battery making plants.
Tesla has said it plans to build three more gigafactories to accompany its first in Nevada, United States. That plant is jointly owned by Panasonic, which is the exclusive battery cell supplier for Tesla’s mass-market Model 3 sedan.
China’s Contemporary Amperex Technology Co (CATL) said in July it would build its first production site in Europe in Germany and the plant would supply carmaker BMW with lithium-ion batteries.
BMW plans to source 4 billion euros of battery cells from CATL over the next few years, with 1.5 billion euros coming from the new site in Erfurt in eastern Germany.
The CATL factory will create about 600 jobs and reach a production capacity of 14 gigawatt hours (GWh) by 2022. CATL had shipments of 12 GWh in 2017.
Chinese electric vehicle maker BYD is one of the world’s biggest battery producers with the lowest production costs, according to Bernstein Research.
BYD is considering cell production in Europe, an executive told Reuters earlier this year, adding it was not clear where it might be located. The company has two production sites for electric buses in Europe, in Hungary and France.
South Korea’s LG Chem plans to produce 100,000 EV batteries per year at its new Polish factory near the western city of Wroclaw, 190 km (120 miles) from the German border.
The LG Chem plant supplies batteries to German carmakers Audi, Porsche and Daimler. It has also secured a contract to supply batteries for Germany’s Volkswagen starting in late 2019.
The factory’s planned output of 100,000 battery cells is equivalent to roughly 4 GWh per year which means the plant’s capacity is just a fraction of expected future demand in Europe.
GSR CAPITAL www.gsrcapital.com/en
Chinese investment firm GSR Capital last year bought Nissan Motor Co’s electric vehicle battery business - Automotive Energy Supply Corp - including battery plants in Japan, the U.S. state of Tennessee and England.
The UK plant produces 2 GWh of lithium ion batteries per year for Nissan electric vehicles.
Japanese battery maker GS Yuasa Corp said in January it would set up a factory in Hungary that would assemble lithium ion batteries and would consider producing cells on the site in the future.
South Korea’s Samsung SDI Co started production at a new factory near Budapest this year that is expected to produce batteries for 50,000 electric vehicles a year.
Samsung SDI, an affiliate of Samsung Electronics Co Ltd , also produces rechargeable batteries for electronic devices such as smartphones and energy storage systems.
Samsung SDI, which already has a plant in Austria assembling battery packs, has supplied batteries to Volkswagen and BMW.
South Korea’s SK Innovation plans to break ground this year on a battery plant in Hungary and launch production from 2020, producing 7.5 GWh of batteries per year.
SK Innovation started as Korea Oil Corporation and owns South Korea’s largest crude oil refiner. It also has divisions for chemicals, lubricants, batteries and electronic materials.
France’s Saft, owned by energy company Total produces a range of batteries, including for back-up power and industrial applications, but not for electric vehicles.
In February, it created an alliance with German industrial group Siemens, Solvay and Manz to develop a new generation of batteries.
The group will focus on advanced high-density lithium-ion and solid-state technology, targeting the market for electric vehicles, railway, marine sectors, among others.
A Saft spokesman said the company was not participating in Germany’s e-mobility summit on Nov. 12-13 and that Saft was not aware of another multinational battery cell alliance.
The German-based consortium of 17 companies and research institutions announced plans last year to build two foundries, where lithium-ion battery cells are produced to customers’ specifications. It said its two planned factories would have a capacity of 34 GWh by 2028, which would top Northvolt’s plans.
But the consortium has run into liquidity problems as companies shied away from investing, industry sources told Reuters. So the future of TerraE remains unclear.
A spokesman of TerraE did not respond when asked by Reuters to give an update of its battery cell plans.
Volkswagen’s supervisory board is due to discuss its electric car and battery cell strategy at a meeting on Nov. 16. The German carmaker has said in the past that it was studying battery cell production at its plant in Salzgitter.
A source told Reuters on Thursday that the board would discuss a far-reaching alliance with South Korean battery cell maker SK Innovation.
BMW is establishing a technology consortium with Northvolt and Belgium’s Umicore to develop a value chain for battery cells in Europe, including development, production and, ultimately, recycling.
The company has also said it will purchase specific raw materials such as cobalt, and then make them available to battery cell suppliers as a way to secure a supply of electric car batteries.
Daimler said it would add battery manufacturing capabilities to its Mercedes-Benz plants in Sindelfingen and Untertuerkheim in the southern state of Baden-Wuerttemberg.
The company is already assembling batteries in its Kamenz plant in the eastern state of Saxony, but the factory relies on imported battery cells.
German auto parts and tyre maker Continental AG formed a joint venture in March with Chinese auto parts supplier CITC to produce so-called mild hybrid batteries in China.
Continental also said it was considering making EV batteries using solid-state technology, but for was holding out for now until more advances have been made in the field. (Reporting by Michael Nienaber in Berlin, Ed Taylor in Frankfurt, Jan C. Schwartz in Hamburg, Esha Vaish in Stockholm, Bate Felix in Paris; editing by David Clarke)
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