Stellantis battery JV seeks contracts with other automakers

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ACC, the battery joint venture of Stellantis and energy giant Total, is seeking to build EV batteries for other automakers when it starts production in 2023, CEO Yann Vincent said.

The joint venture formally started operations six months ago, and has just begun the government-mandated public review process for its first factory, in Douvrin, northern France. Initial capacity is set to be eight gigawatt hours, ramping up to at least 24 gigawatt hours — and as much as 32 gWh — by 2030. 

A second factory planned for Kaiserslautern, Germany, is expected to start production in 2025, also with a target of at least 24 gWh.

Once the two factories are built out, total investment will be 5 billion euros ($6 billion), and they will be capable of supplying 1 million EVs a year, ACC said. Of that investment, 26 percent will be publicly financed by France (846 million euros) and Germany (437 million euros). 

The European Union has prioritized EV battery production as being in the bloc’s strategic interest, with the aim of being self-sufficient in 2025.

ACC, which stands of Automotive Cells Company, was created as a counter to Asian dominance of the electric vehicle battery market, Vincent said Tuesday at an online event from Automotive News Europe sister publication Automobilwoche. He noted that 85 percent of Europe’s EV batteries are built in China, Japan or South Korea.

The creation of Stellantis in January has expanded the potential in-house market for ACC batteries, with the addition of Fiat Chrysler Automobile brands such as Fiat, Jeep, Alfa Romeo and Maserati to those of PSA Group.

“We’re starting with the first contract to Stellantis, but we are in discussions with other automakers,” Vincent said. “Our mission is to build and sell to any automaker.”

One potential customer is Renault Group, which is concentrating EV production in northern France. Renault had expressed interest in joining ACC as a partner, but has said little about the possibility recently. CEO Luca de Meo and Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard have said it is essential for battery production to be near Renault’s assembly sites to help bring down the cost of EVs.

The European Union estimates that demand for mobility sector batteries in Europe automakers will rise from about 40 gWh in 2020 to 170 gWh in 2025 to more than 400 gWh in 2030. Both established battery cell makers such as LG Chem and CATL and new entrants such as Northvolt and S-Volt (a spinoff of China’s Great Wall Motors) are rushing to build capacity in Europe.

ACC is locating its two factories at facilities that currently build internal combustion engines for Stellantis, which Vincent said was a strategic decision to help make up for the coming drop in gasoline and diesel powertrains. On Tuesday, Volvo Cars joined a growing list of automakers pledging to be electric only in the next 10 to 15 years.  

“We will locate in two existing powertrain facilities, in Douvrin and Kaiserlslautern, and we all know that the production of internal combustion engines is going to decrease,” Vincent said. “Being there will bring a partial solution to a problem that will come for sure.”

The ACC site in Douvrin is expected to provide 1,400 to 2,000 direct jobs, ACC said in documents filed with the government review process. An additional 350 to 400 jobs will be created during the 18-month construction process.

The existing internal combustion engine factory in Douvrin, inaugurated in 1969, has about 1,500 full-time employees. It builds gasoline and diesel engines for Peugeot, Citroen, Opel/Vauxhall and DS. 

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