A few years ago, it seemed obvious to us electric vehicle fanatics that the transportation sector would switch to electricity. Today, you have to be completely blind to or ignorant of trends in the auto world to not realize that road transport is going to electrify fairly soon, which means much less demand for oil. Oil companies with smart, forward-looking leaders are trying to find ways to make the shift elegantly. One of those is French oil & gas giant Total.
Four years ago, we covered the news that Total acquired Saft, a battery company. Now we have the news that Total/Saft has partnered with Groupe PSA/Opel on a new joint venture, a battery company. The company’s name is Automotive Cells Company (ACC)
Groupe PSA is one of the largest automakers in Europe and is 10th overall globally in terms of annual sales volume. It needs to electrify quickly to meet EU regulations, but something that could throw good electric vehicle plans into the ditch is a battery supply crunch. ACC is aimed at averting that problem.
According to Total and Groupe PSA, this new joint venture “marks the birth of a major player in battery production in Europe.” The plan is to start producing battery cells in 2023. The two corporate giants aren’t the only ones funding this startup, though.
“ACC benefits from the support of the French and German authorities, as well as the European institutions, to accompany the energy transition of mobility.” The amount of support from French and German public authorities totals €1.3 billion. “It received the European institutions agreement through an IPCEI project that testifies to the strategic importance of mobility for the energy transition. The whole project will mobilize an investment more than €5 billion investment,” a press release notes.
“The R&D centre in Bordeaux and the pilot site in Nersac (France) have already started in order to develop the new high-performance lithium-ion technologies. At the end of this R&D phase, production is planned to be launched in two ‘gigafactories’, in Douvrin (France) and Kaiserslautern (Germany).”
Apparently, the whole industry has adopted Tesla’s term “gigafactory” for a battery factory producing at least 1 gigawatt-hour (GWh) of battery capacity a year (typically tens of GWh). The initial production capacity ACC expects in 2023 is 8 GWh, with a goal of reaching 48 GWh by 2030.
Groupe PSA and Total expect that 48 GWh of battery production will be enough for 1 million electric vehicles a year and will account for 10% of the market in Europe. The companies project that the European electric vehicle (EV) market will require 400 GWh of battery production by 2030, which is 15 times more than today. ACC expects to supply not just Groupe PSA with its batteries, but also other electric vehicle producers.