PARIS, France: France has celebrated the groundbreaking for the first of four battery manufacturing gigafactories, which European and Asian companies are planning to build in the country's north.
The first plant is a development by Automotive Cells Company, a joint-venture between Stellantis, Mercedes and TotalEnergies, valued at $2.20 billion, with half of that amount provided by the French state and local authorities.
Before the inauguration, Ola Kallenius, Chief Executive Officer of Mercedes-Benz, said, "ACC's new plant marks a key milestone in Europe's transformation to make its auto industry more resilient, competitive, and sustainable, also in the electric era," he said, as quoted by Reuters.
Later this year, the plant will begin production of lithium-ion batteries, with an initial capacity of 13 gigawatt hours (GWh), which will be increased to around 40 GWh, enough to power some 500,000 cars annually.
Companies and regional authorities said that the plant will create up to 2,000 jobs by 2030.
Renault has established a partnership with local start-up Verkor in France's northern region around the port of Dunkirk to produce batteries for its premium and Alpine electric models, while Taiwan's ProLogium and China's Envision AESC have also announced plans to build local gigafactories.
Europe relies on batteries made in Asia for electric vehicles (EV), and countries are offering various incentives to promote the industry, which has become more urgent since 2022 when the US passed its $430 billion Inflation Reduction Act, which includes major tax subsidies to reduce carbon emissions, while boosting domestic production and manufacturing.