Kion Battery Systems, the joint venture announced in the summer of 2019 between the intralogistics provider Kion Group and the battery manufacturer BMZ Holding, has now started production of lithium-ion batteries for industrial trucks in Karlstein, Germany.
In the newly built production hall, which covers around 4,000 square meters, more than 12,000 batteries from Kion Group brands, many of which are especially for heavy-duty forklifts and industrial trucks, can be manufactured annually on the two new production lines. Even though Kion is the name-giving partner of the joint venture, the production of Kion Battery Systems (KBS) was set up at the headquarters of the BMZ Group. When announcing the start of production in 2019, the second quarter of 2020 was still mentioned as the planned start of production, but it became the end of the year, partly due to delays caused by the pandemic.
KBS is relying on lithium-ion batteries to replace the lead-acid batteries previously used in forklift trucks. The LiIon technology offers advantages in terms of charging times, service life and energy efficiency. WithKBS says that with the developments made over the past few years, forklifts with LiIon batteries are an economic alternative, especially in intensive shift operation in all fields of application. The cells for the battery systems assembled in Karlstein are purchased from Asia.
Now that production has started, the focus is on expanding capacity and developing new battery systems. By 2023, Kion Battery Systems is expected to employ up to 150 people, mainly in research, development and production. According to the partners, this will enable them to: “expand production capacity in order to meet the rapidly growing demand for lithium–ion battery systems in the intralogistics market, especially in the EMEA region.”
“The new production facilities at KBS will allow us to meet the increasing demand for modern lithium-ion batteries and offer customers a highly reliable supply of products,” says Christian Hasenstab, one of the two co-managing directors of the joint venture.
The forklift truck manufacturer Kion and the battery manufacturer for the BMZ Group had announced this in July 2019 when the joint venture was founded. Since then, the prospects for the joint venture have changed considerably. In 2019 it was still said that by 2023 KBS would have around 80 employees. Now Hasenstab and the second Co-Managing Director, Carsten Harnisch, are expecting 150 employees by 2023.