French battery startup Verkor has announced that it raised $118 million (€100 million) in a recent financing round co-led by EQT Ventures and Renault Group, with participation from the French government and Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Region. Other investors in the round included Schneider Electric, Arkema, Tokai COBEX, and EIT InnoEnergy.
The funding will be used to further scale the company and to set the construction of the Verkor Innovation Centre (VIC) in motion. The VIC will be located in Grenoble, France, and according to the company will become a pilot line for battery cell manufacturing and include testing facilities, module prototyping, and an R&D center, as well as provide training opportunities for engineers and technicians.
Verkor is also planning to be one of a new wave of battery Gigafactories that are being planned across Europe. As demand for electric vehicles increases, so does the need for batteries. Currently, the majority of battery production takes place in Asia, which isn’t in the long term interests of governments in North America and Europe that want to create jobs in this sector, and from an environmental standpoint it is better to manufacture electric vehicles and batteries in as close proximity as possible.
This approach is supported by the French government, which is a key partnership for the funding round. In a statement, Agnès Pannier-Runacher, the French Minister of Industry said: “With the automotive industry facing unprecedented challenges, the investments we make today will turn into tomorrow’s jobs. We are supporting Verkor’s growth through CORAM, the French orientation committee for automotive and mobility research, which is financed by the French future investment programme, the PIA. Our goal is to accelerate the development of innovative digital processes for battery cell manufacturing, which will be implemented in the future Gigafactory.”
In April, Verkor joined an appeal to EU lawmakers to set an end date of 2035 for the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles. There were 27 companies in total which made their voices heard via this action, including major players like Uber, IKEA Retail, Volvo, and Vattenfall. It shows that despite being launched just a year ago, Verkor is serious about its mission and potential.
Verkor is planning to have its pilot line for battery production in place by 2022, with the innovation gleaned from this process going into the construction of its first battery Gigafactory in 2024.
Image courtesy Verkor
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