Two major deals could see France build 74GWH of lithium-ion battery manufacturing capacity by 2030.
Vehicle OEM Renault is at the heart of the deals that could see it secure battery supplies from plants being built by Chinese firm Envision and French firm Verkor.
Renault Group is partnering with Envision AESC— the battery arm of Envision Group— to develop a 9GWh gigafactory in Douai by 2024, with the aim of reaching 24GWh six-years later.
Envision will invest up to €2 billion ($2.3 billion) to produce batteries for electric models, including the future Renault R5, at the plant in Douai situated near to Renault ElectriCity production sites at Douai, Maubeuge and Ruitz.
Lei Zhang, founder and chief executive officer of Envision Group, said: “This first phase development will unlock future large-scale investment to grow the local supply chain and develop the whole life cycle opportunities of batteries, including energy storage, battery reuse, smart charging and closed loop recycling.”
Renault Group has signed a memorandum of understanding to become a “more than” 20% shareholder of Verkor, and plans to join the consortium that was created around the French start-up in 2020.
The initial phases of the partnership will involve the financing of an R&D centre (Verkor Innovation Centre) in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region in France, and a pilot line for battery cell and module prototyping and production as early as next year.
The second phase will see Verkor move to create a 16GWh gigafactory— for which 10GWh is earmarked for Renault— for high performance batteries in France, with potential to rise to 20GWh by 2030.
Verkor aims to reach a total annual capacity target of 50GWh by 2030, of which 20GWh will go to Renault Group.
A Verkor spokesman told BEST construction of the plant will start in 2023 and the ramp up will start throughout 2025. Full capacity will be reached in 2026.
The 16GWh plant will cost around €1 billion ($1.1 billion).
The spokesman said: “We will sell in Europe to the mobility and stationary storage segments, with the OEM taking the volume lion’s share.”
Verkor has formed “numerous” partnerships, to develop a competitive and transparent value chain, which will be announced over the next few weeks.
Renault Group will join existing shareholders EIT InnoEnergy, Groupe IDEC, Schneider Electric and Capgemini.
Benoit Lemaignan CEO and co-founder of Verkor said: “This is a first step in a series of major announcements to come over the following weeks which will demonstrate our progress in our plan to generate up to 50GWh of battery cell production capacity by 2030 – a cornerstone in developing a competitive, sovereign and sustainable battery supply chain in Europe.”
Through the partnership, Renault Group will build on its knowledge of battery cell manufacturing while leveraging Verkor’s excellence in manufacturing low-carbon batteries through digital innovation.
Race to build UK’s first gigafactory
Envision Group has joined the race to build the UK’s first lithium-ion gigafactory that will form part of a £1 billion ($1.3 billion) electric vehicle hub.
The company will invest £450 million ($622 million) to build the gigafactory on the International Advanced Manufacturing Park (IAMP) in Sunderland, UK.
Formal planning for an initial 9GWh plant is about to begin, with Envision potentially investing up to £1.8 billion ($2.4 billion) to reach to 25GWh capacity by 2030 with potential on site for up to 35GWh.