Chinese firms to help European EV ambitions
Chinese electric car battery makers are expanding their presence in Europe to support the ambitions of native governments and carmakers in electrification. Last year, 1.39 million electric cars and plug-in hybrids were sold in the European Union; more than those sold in China, the world's largest single market for such vehicles.
This momentum is expected to continue in the coming years as car giants, including Volkswagen and Daimler, have revealed a massive shift toward electrification, and EU governments are imposing stricter rules on gasoline vehicles. However, as Europe's battery sector cannot meet the demand for electric vehicles, Chinese battery makers have stepped in to fuel the continent's electrification drive.
CATL started production on a manufacturing facility in the German state of Thuringia in 2019. Local production of battery modules will start later this year and battery cells will roll out in the second half of 2022, said Li Wei, a CATL representative. He said CATL's customers include BMW, Daimler, Volkswagen, Stellantis, and Volvo.
Statistics show that five out of the top 10 battery makers by sales volume in 2020 were Chinese. CATL was No 1 globally by selling lithium-ion batteries totaling 44.45 gigawatt-hours, a title it has held since 2017. Chinese battery maker Gotion High-Tech will help Volkswagen produce battery cells at the carmaker's plant in Salzgitter, Germany.
Production is expected to start in 2025. Gotion, headquartered in Hefei, Anhui province, will serve as a technology partner "for the cell factory layout, machinery and production processes," said the group that owns brands including Volkswagen, Audi, and Porsche.
Another Chinese company, Envision AESC, is looking to accelerate its expansion in Europe. It announced in late June it is to build a $2.4 billion battery plant in France to supply carmaker Renault. Envision aims to produce 9 GWh of batteries in 2024 and 24 GWh by 2030 in France. It also pledged to create 1,000 local jobs by 2024 and 2,500 by the end of the decade.
It said the investment will make its battery plant the first gigafactory in France. Earlier this month, Envision said it would make another investment of 423 million pounds ($576 million) to build a gigafactory in the United Kingdom.
This would be part of a flagship EV hub project with Japanese carmaker Nissan. The move further expands its presence in Europe as the continent ramps up production to achieve battery independence and embrace the EV boom.
Envision Group CEO Zhang Lei said the first phase of development in Europe will unlock future large-scale investment to grow the local supply chain and develop the whole life cycle opportunities of batteries. This includes energy storage, battery reuse, smart charging, and closed-loop recycling.
As Europe is going electric, EU governments are making heavy investments to expand their capacity in the EV battery sector, which has been dominated by Asian players, mainly from China and South Korea.
After years of slow progress, there are now plans to invest 40 billion euros ($47 billion) in 38 European factories that could turn out 1,000 GWh of batteries per year, according to Transport &Environment, a non-governmental organization.
Source: China Daily
Image source: Xinhua