€5bn partnership to develop new battery energy storage standards


Global energy company Total has partnered with Saft, PSA Group and Opel to form a new company which will be responsible at accelerating the development of electric vehicle batteries.

The new firm Automotive Cell Company will require up to €5 billion to produce up to one million batteries a year.

The joint venture will start by establishing a pilot plant on the land of Saft’s Nersac facility. This will require €200 million and is expected to generate around 200 high-skilled jobs in France’s Nouvelle-Aquitaine region as from mid-2021. The pilot plant will develop up to 8GWh of lithium-ion battery capacity initially, rising to 24GWh later on.

As from 2023, the joint venture will expand its operations to Germany where up to 48GWh of battery capacity will be developed or around one million batteries a year which is equivalent to 10-15% of Europe’s battery storage market. The new company will start producing EV batteries as from 2023.

The aim is to produce EV batteries with the highest level of energy performance, both in terms of range and charging time, and a lower carbon footprint than that of the competition.

Up to nearly nearly €1.3 billion in public funding has been promised by the French, German and European Union authorities for the project.

Patrick Pouyanné, the CEO of Total, said: “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 decarbonized economy.”

Carlos Tavares, Chairman of the Managing Board of Groupe PSA added: “Our purpose is to offer citizens mobility options that are clean, safe and affordable. I am convinced that this project, with our partner Total/Saft, will create a benchmark player in automotive battery cell development and production in Europe. I would like to thank the French and German authorities, the Nouvelle-Aquitaine and Hauts-de-France regions and Rhineland-Palatinate state for their active support, which is decisive in the creation of a competitive business backed by Total and its affiliate Saft, Groupe PSA and Opel.”

In 2019, the European Union has set a target to quickly expand the sale of electric vehicles. The European market for automotive batteries is estimated to reach around 400GWh in 2030, or 15 times current needs, corresponding to more than seven million electric vehicles.