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The battle for the battery for electric cars in Europe is going through Germany: a Chinese group has chosen this country to set up its first European factory there. There is a lot of talk about the American Tesla, which is building its very first European electric car factory in the suburbs of Berlin. This is Svolt, the former subsidiary of a well-established Chinese automaker. Svolt has set his sights on the land of Saarland in southwestern Germany. The group will invest two billion euros there and will manufacture battery cells there, which are in fact the key components for electric cars. 500,000 batteries must roll off production lines each year. Svolt will even open a research and development center within two years.
If we look only at investors from Asia, the Chinese dominate but we see more and more Japanese and South Koreans settling in. Their chosen lands are not limited to Germany. They nibble on land in Poland and Hungary in particular.
All are benefiting from the demand from car manufacturers who are engaged in a shift towards electric mobility and are under pressure from increasingly stringent European standards in terms of CO2 emissions. It’s a juicy market because while European automakers assemble batteries, very few produce them themselves. For example, the German BMW is now buying Chinese batteries.
Via its German subsidiary Opel, PSA has joined forces with the French battery specialist, the Saft group, a subsidiary of the oil company Total, to set up a battery cell factory in Kaiserslauten, in eastern Germany. Renault must also participate in the major Franco-German electric battery project. Faced with Asia, Europe must really win. Today it only represents 3% of the world production of electric batteries.