French automaker Renault has signed two major partnerships deals with electric vehicle battery gigafactory developers that it hopes will help the company become a more competitive and efficient player in the EV market.
Announced as part of the company’s “Renaulution” road map – which presumably sounds better in French than it does in English – the car maker said it has signed one deal with Envision AESC, a lithium-ion battery manufacturing joint venture between Nissan, NEC, and Tokin Corporation, and a second agreement with French battery start-up Verkor.
Under the signed Memorandum of Understanding with Verkor, Renault will join as a major shareholder, taking a 20% stake in the company and ensuring that Verkor is able to proceed with gigafactory plans, which it hopes to start in 2023 and complete in 2024 with an initial production capacity of 16GWh, ramping up to 50GWh by 2030.
Importantly, for Renault, its investment in Verkor will ensure it receives 10GWh of the gigafactory’s annual production capacity for use in its planned EV rollout.
“By joining forces with Verkor, we are accelerating the production of high-performance low-carbon batteries in France, for Europe,” said Luca de Meo, CEO of Renault Group.
“This project will benefit from Verkor team’s cutting-edge skills in the cell industry. Attracting and retaining top global talents, coming from over 14 countries, the Verkor team capitalises on a unique experience in the battery field.”
Renault’s investment in Verkor – joining existing shareholders EIT InnoEnergy, Groupe IDEC, Schneider Electric, and Capgemini – will also allow Verkor to move ahead with its plans to build the Verkor Innovation Centre, an advanced research and development facility that it hopes will design innovative battery cells and modules.
“We are proud to be associated with Renault Group and look forward to delivering on our common vision to roll out e-mobility on a larger scale through this partnership,” said Benoit Lemaignan, CEO and co-founder of Verkor.
“This is a first step in a series of major announcements to come over the following weeks which will demonstrate our progress in our plan to generate up to 50 GWh of battery cell production capacity by 2030 – a cornerstone in developing a competitive, sovereign and sustainable battery supply chain in Europe.”
Renault’s second signed agreement announced on Monday is with Envision AESC, which manufactures lithium-ion batteries for EVs, has been a long-standing partner with Nissan and is looking to build a battery gigafactory in Douai, in northern France.
Located close to Renault’s own ElectriCity production sites at Douai, Maubeuge, and Ruitz, the new gigafactory will boast an initial annual production capacity of 9GWh in 2024, and then ramp up to 24GWh by 2030.
Envision AESC, the battery arm of global green tech company Envision Group, will invest €2 billion in the gigafactory and the new development will hopefully generate 2,500 new jobs by 2030.
“Investing to build a new gigafactory in northern France, we aim to support the net zero carbon transition by making high performance, longer range batteries and EVs affordable and accessible for millions more motorists,” said Lei Zhang, founder and Chief Executive Officer of Envision Group.
“This first phase development will unlock future large-scale investment to grow the local supply chain and develop the whole life cycle opportunities of batteries, including energy storage, battery reuse, smart charging and closed loop recycling. It has the potential to create thousands of new high value green jobs as part of an end-to-end battery ecosystem in the region.”