The France aims to make the Hauts-de-France region the European valley of the electric battery. A first large factory opened on Tuesday, May 30, in Billy-Berclau-Douvrin, in the Pas-de-Calais.

Automotive Cells Company (ACC) inaugurated this "gigafactory", the first of four sites in the region, with the ambition to breathe new industrial life into this former mining region in northern France.

By the end of the year, the site will produce its first lithium-ion battery cells with an initial capacity of 13 GWh for an investment of about 800 million euros, more than half of which will come from ACC's three shareholders, Stellantis, TotalEnergies and Mercedes, with the rest coming from the State and local authorities.


Second "gigafactory" in Western Europe

The gigafactory, located not far from a Stellantis gasoline engine plant, could eventually reach a total capacity of about 40 GWh – enough to equip about 500,000 vehicles per year – for a total investment of more than two billion euros. It is expected to create between 1,400 and 2,000 direct jobs by 2030, not including subcontractors and suppliers.

It is the first of four northern "gigafactories" with Envision AESC, the Japanese subsidiary of the Chinese group Envision, which plans a capacity of 9 GWh in 2024 and 24 GWh by 2030 in Douai, the Grenoble Verkor - 16 GWh in 2025 and 50 GWh in 2030 - in Dunkirk and the Taiwanese ProLogium - 30 GWh in 2030 - also in Dunkirk.

>> Read also: In Europe, the race for lithium, a major issue in the energy transition

ACC Billy-Berclau-Douvrin will be the second gigafactory in Western Europe after the pioneer Northvolt in Sweden.

Preparing for the end of heat engines

The France seeks to create a complete ecosystem to supply this essential component of electric vehicles, while sales of internal combustion engines are due to end in Europe in 2035.

French President Emmanuel Macron has set a target of producing two million electric vehicles in France by 2030.

>> Read also: Paris Motor Show: the electric car will be Chinese or will not be

"Gigafactories" projects, strategic to take over from petrol and diesel engine plants and manual transmission sites, are multiplying on the continent. There are no less than forty, in order to reduce dependence on Asia, still by far the main supplier of batteries to the global automotive industry.

With Reuters

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