Total launches EV battery pilot plant
Total, through its affiliate Saft, and PSA with Opel, have unveiled plans to develop an electric vehicle (EV) battery manufacturing facility in Europe, to be run by a new joint venture named Automotive Cell Company (ACC).
The project will leverage cutting-edge R&D in order to produce EV batteries starting in 2023. The technology used will offer the highest level of energy performance, both in terms of range and charging time, and a lower carbon footprint than that of the competition, setting a new standard in Europe, claim the companies.
The first phase of the project focuses on R&D, including building a pilot plant at Saft’s Nersac facility. The plant will develop, qualify and commercially scale up new, high-performance lithium-ion batteries, and is scheduled to start up in mid-2021.
This first phase will trigger the investment decision for a large-scale production plant (8 GWh initially, rising to 24 GWh later on) in the northern Hauts-de-France region, followed by a second one of equal capacity in Germany, in order to reach 48 GWh 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 €5bn will be required to complete this ambitious programme, notes Total.
The project is supported by the French, German and European Union authorities and is expected to receive nearly €1.3bn in public funding under the European Commission’s Important Projects of Common European Interest (IPCEI) initiative.
‘In 2015, Total set an ambition to become the responsible energy major. 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 decarbonised economy,’ says Patrick Pouyanné, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Total.
In 2019, the European Union set ambitious, binding targets to quickly expand the sale of EVs. The European market for automotive batteries is estimated to reach around 400 GWh in 2030, or 15 times current needs, corresponding to more than 7mn EVs, according to Total. European automakers therefore need to plan their battery supply strategy, since batteries represent more than a third of an EV’s added value.