Race Heats Up for European EV Battery Factory
Thanks to a surge in electric vehicle volume expectations globally, the race for the best battery sources is heating up in Europe, reports CleanTechnica.
The numbers and the stakes are high, writes electrical engineer Christopher Arcus, citing early January coverage in Automotive News. VW Group “expects to sell between two and three million full-electric cars annually by 2025,” while Tesla is looking toward “one million EV sales globally” by 2020. Nissan Europe is also in on the game, predicting “20% of its sales will be EVs, and Ford forecasts that EVs will account for 15 to 20% of the total Chinese market. BMW projects that by 2025.”
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With projections on that scale, European car manufacturers are necessarily picking up the pace on their battery production plans, as “any move to compete in the long-range EV race will require large-scale battery production”.
Key players include Scania (VW Group), which “has announced its intention to be part of the largest battery cell manufacturer in Europe,” Arcus writes, and Northolt’s Carlsson, with plans to rival Tesla’s Nevada gigafactory by delivering battery storage capacity of 32 gigawatt-hours (GWh) per year by 2023.
Mercedes, meanwhile, has partnered with SK Innovations, a major South Korean battery manufacturer, which “is set to break ground on an 840-billion-Won (US$772.8-million) plant in Hungary in February.” The 430,000-square-metre plant is expected to produce 7.5 GWh of EV cells per year as of 2020.
LG Chem is still the odds-on favourite for now, electrifying not only the top-selling Renault Zoe, but also a dozen or so models produced by Volkswagen, Volvo, Hyundai, Chrysler, Ford, Audi, and Chevrolet.
An important part of the story, Arcus adds, is Nissan’s reported switch to LG Chem for the 2019 Nissan Leaf, a model that will offer a minimum 200 miles of range with a 60-kWh battery. “Nissan is expected to be switching horses after selling its own [Automotive Energy Supply Corporation] battery plant to China,” he writes.
But LG Chem may not hold its lead in Europe for long, Arcus speculates. Though it recently “announced expansion plans in Europe with a new factory in Poland,” the Seoul-based battery-maker can expect tough competition from Volkswagen and the Mercedes/SK partnership.