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Total launches a pilot plant to manufacture European batteries for electric vehicles

Total launches a pilot plant to manufacture European batteries for electric vehicles

February 12, 2020
Press Release: Total

Total, through its affiliate Saft, and PSA with Opel, have announced plans to combine their know-how to develop EV battery manufacturing activity in Europe. To that end, the partners intend to establish a joint venture named ‘Automotive Cell Company’ (ACC)

The project will leverage advanced R&D, notably provided by Saft, in order to produce EV batteries starting in 2023. The technology used will offer what they it claims to be the highest level of energy performance, both in terms of range and charging time, as well as a lower carbon footprint than that of the competition, setting a new standard in Europe.

The first phase of the project focuses on R&D, including building a pilot plant on the land of Saft’s Nersac facility. The plant is scheduled to start up in mid-2021 and represents an investment of €200 million. The project will generate around 200 highly skilled jobs in France’s Nouvelle-Aquitaine region to develop, qualify and commercially scale-up new, high-performance lithium-ion batteries.

This first phase will trigger the investment decision for a large-scale production plant (8GWh initially, rising to 24GWh later on) in the northern Hauts-de-France region, followed by a second one of equal capacity in Germany, in order to reach 48GWh of combined capacity by 2030. That would represent production of one million batteries a year, or around 10-15% of the European market. Ultimately, nearly €5 billion will be required to complete this ambitious program.

Total and Groupe PSA have acknowledged the support of French, German and European Union authorities for the project, expected to receive nearly €1.3 billion in public funding during its development in the frame of the Important Projects of Common European Interest (IPCEI) initiative authorized by the European Commission.

“In 2015, Total set an ambition to become the responsible energy major,” said Patrick Pouyanné, chairman and CEO of Total. “With that in mind, we acquired Saft, a major battery maker, in 2016, primarily to develop energy storage to support the growth of intermittent renewable energies such as solar and wind. The fast-growing development of electric mobility offers Total, via Saft, another opportunity for growth and commitment to a decarbonized economy. With the support of French, German and European authorities, we will deploy our best expertise and technologies alongside our partner Groupe PSA, to create a competitive European battery industry.”

The Automotive Cell Company (ACC) will be a 50-50 Saft and Groupe PSA/Opel joint venture for the pilot production line. During the commercial production phase, Saft’s share in ACC will decline to 33%.

In 2019, the European Union set ambitious, binding targets to quickly expand the sale of electric vehicles. The European market for automotive batteries is estimated to reach around 400GWh in 2030, or 15 times current needs, corresponding to more than seven million electric vehicles.

European automakers therefore need to plan their battery supply strategy, since batteries represent more than a third of an electric vehicle’s added value.

The project’s implementation is contingent on securing the approvals of the relevant antitrust authorities.

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