Published on February 19th, 2015 | by James Ayre


“German Gigafactory” — Ground Broken On Europe’s Soon-To-Be-Largest Battery Factory

February 19th, 2015 by  

Ground was broken on what is soon to be the largest battery factory in the whole of Europe, in Karlstejn-Großwelzheim (Karlstein), Germany.

Occasionally referred to as a “German Gigafactory,” the Batterien-Montage-Zentrums (BMZ) facility is currently expected to be completed by 2020. It will total 55,000 square meters of working space, and be home to roughly 1,500 employees.


The facility will reportedly possess a manufacturing capacity of about 5 GWh — putting it amongst the largest such battery factories in the world when completed.

In a reply to a question by one of our readers (tip of the hat to Philip W), the developer stated (as translated from German): “Hello, if everything goes as planned we will produce up to 80 million Lithium-Ion batteries in various sizes in Karlstein. The overall capacity will be about 5 GWh”

I’m not sure if the comparison with the Tesla Motors and Panasonic Gigafactory is really the right one, but it will certainly be a notable facility once up and running.

Writing on subjects such as these, I can’t help but be slightly amused by the apparent rivalry between Tesla Motors and many German manufacturers. Still, that psuedo-rivalry doesn’t seem to have resulted in prominent manufacturers such as BMW making any truly strong moves into the electric vehicle market.

While it’s worth applauding BMW for the i3 to some degree (especially since it has sold better than expected), it isn’t really much of a competitor for Tesla in any real regard — it’s doesn’t have the range or power to really rival Tesla’s vehicles. I can’t help but wonder when the German automakers will begin taking the electric vehicle market more seriously?

Those that can understand German can find more on the “German Gigafactory” here.

(Thanks again to Philip W for the heads up.)

Image Credit: Screen Capture

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About the Author

's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.

  • davidW

    As far as I know BMZ only buys battery cells that they then assemble into battery packs. Does this mean they changed strategy? Otherwise the comparison to Tesla’s gigafactory is very far fetched indeed…

    • Bob_Wallace

      My understanding is that the Tesla gigafactory will actually be a Tesla/Panasonic gigafactory. In part of the building Panasonic will manufacture cells. In another part Tesla will assemble them into battery packs.

      I think the big message here is that we’re watching a large ramp up of manufacturing capacity for EV batteries.

  • Shiggity

    A ‘gigafactory’ asset is going to be very important to your region / country. In the same way the first big data centers were really big news at first, now they’re just common. Or remember the first billion dollar FABs that Intel built in the 90s.

  • Bob_Wallace

    So a modular factory?

    Tesla/Panasonic is the same approach except they are constructing the building up front and then adding manufacturing equipment inside as market grows.

    • Philip W

      Yeah. From the interview it’s not really clear if the remaining 4 factories will be built for sure. It seems to depend on demand, but I think we can safely assume that demand will be there. After all they produce batteries in almost all sizes and for lots of different use cases including EV and solar PV batteries.

      Tesla is already sure, that they need the whole Gigafactory capacity, therefore they can do it in one building. Does that make sense?

      • Bob_Wallace

        My current opinion of Elon is that he is a smart guy with good leadership skills. That he surrounds himself with bright, capable people who work well together and the entire crew is good at planning.

        You don’t start a car company and hit a six run homer with your first manufactured car as well as start a rocket company and start hauling goods to the Space Lab if you can’t plan and produce.

        The Tesla/Panasonic plant is huge. But the Tesla team and the Panasonic corporation signed off on building it.

        Obviously mistakes can always be made and non-predictable events can’t be predicted, but this is a move that I’m not willing to second guess.

  • JamesWimberley

    Six years to build a factory? I expect this is really a small project, designed to be scaled up if demand materialises.

  • daveman1

    If you imply the comparison to Tesla’s Gigafactory, you should include the numbers for comparison:

    Sq Feet:
    Tesla:10,000,000 Germany:55,000

    Annual Production:
    Tesla:35GWH Germany:5GWH

    • Ross

      So more like Megafactory.

    • Menomuna

      Do note that sq footage was calculated wrong, as per karrlsam’s comment. More like 600,000 sq.ft (m2 ~= 11 sqft). Still an order of magnitude difference, but not two.

      • Thanks. Yeah, I really don’t know why Google would translate “meters” to “feet,” since they are very different measurements….

  • karrlsam

    55,000 square meters–not- 55,000 sq, feet. 12 acres–not 1 1/4 acres

    • vensonata

      Karrlsam, gosh, that makes a difference! I was wondering if the Germans were going to employ only midgets in that tiny space. Editor, come on man, get it together!

    • I don’t know why Google changed meters to feet, but it translated the original as: “Then to find an area of 55,000 square feet of space here around 1,500 employees….”

  • Martin

    Thanks for the link.
    Just wondering which one will have the first minivan?

  • Will E

    Germany car producers mis the electric car transition
    and will loose.
    Tesla could start a Gigafactory in Northern Germany, Hamburg, and use the abundand clean energy, produced there by offshore wind.
    and blow away German gascar producers.
    gascars cannot exist next to EV cars, once prices go down
    and range goes up
    hard times ahead for gascar producers.

    • No way

      Abundant clean energy? You must have mixed up the country of Germany with some some country that isn’t burning almost all coal and gas for their energy.

      • Bob_Wallace

        “Clean-energy sources met 27.7 percent of Germany’s demand in the nine months through September, for the first time exceeding the 26.3 percent share held by lignite coal,….”

        • SirSparks

          Agreed and also much of this energy comes from wind resources situated on the North German coasts.

          • Jouni Valkonen

            And renewable energy production increases in germany again fast the onset of smart grid and self-production of solar electricity is making further integration of renewables more feasible.

  • WeaponZero

    Who is building this factory and what do they plan to supply?

    • Philip W,2,44.html

      They supply basically everything from small batteries for mobile devices to Solar PV storage to EV batteries.

      That article wasn’t put together as well as I’ve hoped.

      • Thanks. That doesn’t really come through in the translation. Says: For the new batteries and mounting center (short BMZ) was now in Karlstejn-Großwelzheim… 😛

        • Philip W

          Yeah if the author doesn’t do any research on his own, then stuff like this happens 😉
          I mean in the whole article there is no mention of the company building the factory. That is far from a decent article, sorry.

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