Electric batteries: Europe is waking up!

If Asia is leading the way in the production of batteries for electric vehicles for the moment, things are starting to seriously change in Europe. In the space of a week, announcements have multiplied on this theme.

Europe does not want to leave to Asia in general, and to China in particular, all the keys to electric mobility, starting with the very strategic production of batteries. This Thursday, the European Commission brings together a dozen ministers as well as major groups in the sector (such as Solvay, Saft-Total or Northvolt) and manufacturers (BMW, Volkswagen and), with the ambition to put this famous concept into practice ” Battery Airbus ”mentioned for several years already.

France and Germany appear to be the drivers of the system. On September 19, at the end of the 50th Franco-German Economic and Financial Council, meeting in Bercy in the presence in particular of the Minister of Economy and Finance, Bruno Le Maire and his counterpart Peter Altmaier, we learned that the two men intended, before the end of the year, to lay the foundation stone of a pilot factory for manufacturing batteries for electric cars in New Aquitaine. “A first factory will then open in France in 2022, followed by a second in Germany in 2024,” said a joint press release issued after the summit.

On the manufacturers side, things are also moving. Renault says it is ready to participate in the creation of this European battery manufacturing sector: “We are in favor of it (and) it is simply a matter of getting around the table so that we understand where there is has an economic plan that holds water. It has to make economic sense,  ”said Jean-Dominique Senard, president of Renault, during a hearing of the Economic Affairs Committee of the National Assembly on Thursday September 25.

While waiting for this “Airbus” to take off, Volkswagen is advancing on its side. On Monday September 23, the group officially launched the development and production of battery cells at its factory in Salzgitter, in Lower Saxony. This is the first stage of a deployment aimed at the inauguration, by 2023-2024, of a gigantic factory resulting from a joint venture with the Swedish Northvolt, which should allow the creation of a thousand jobs. In the meantime, VW announces that it will invest more than one billion euros in activities related to battery cells.

If the sales of electric vehicles are still in their infancy, forecasts are rather optimistic: “the production of electric vehicles in Europe should increase by 6 between 2019 and 2025, to reach 4 million cars and utilities“, underlines the Slovak Maros Sefcovic , Vice-President of the European Commission, in charge of the common battery project for several years. Under these conditions, increased technological independence of the Old Continent appears vital.