The eco brief. Electric batteries: China relies on Germany for its factories

A battery factory in Huaibei (China). Illustrative photo. (WAN SC / MAXPPP)

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The battle for the battery for electric cars in Europe goes 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 Chinese automaker that had a storefront. Svolt has set his sights on the land of Saarland, in the south-west of Germany. The group will invest two billion euros in it and will manufacture battery cells there, which are in reality the key components for electric cars. 500,000 batteries must leave the 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 establishing themselves. Their chosen lands are not limited to Germany. They nibble on land in Poland and Hungary in particular.

All are benefiting from the demand of car manufacturers who are committed to a shift towards electric mobility and are under pressure from increasingly stringent European standards in terms of CO2 emissions. It is a juicy market because if the European automakers assemble the batteries, very few produce them themselves. For example, the German BMW today buys 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.

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