The Envision AESC battery factory at Renault’s Douai site in northern France is to be smaller than originally announced. Instead of the capacity of 43 GWh by 2030, only 30 GWh or more are planned by 2029, according to an agency report. The background is apparently a change of location.
Bloomberg refers to an official document of the French authority CNDP, the Commission Nationale du Débat Public. There, the new planned production capacity of 30 GWh until 2029 is mentioned. When it was announced in June, production capacity was envisaged at 24 GWh by 2027 and 43 GWh by 2030.
The downsizing follows the decision to build the plant on a car park next to Renault’s Douai assembly plant instead of in a wooded area, according to project manager Ayumi Kurose. Because of wildlife living there, there would have been some hurdles in getting permission for species protection reasons. “It would have been complicated to build a battery factory in that zone,” Kurose said.
Instead of one large factory in the forest area, Envision AESC is now planning four smaller plants – three of which will come to about nine GWh, and one to 4.5 GWh. The Chinese company will initially invest around 800 million euros in Douai and employ up to 1,200 people, with construction to begin by the end of 2024. Of the production, nine GWh are reserved for Renault at the outset, according to current information – but the carmaker itself had already announced that it would need up to 24 GWh from Envision AESC by the end of the decade – that would be the majority of the currently planned plant.
According to Bloomberg, Envision AESC itself is in talks with “at least five other carmakers in Europe”. Without further expansion, however, only smaller delivery volumes would probably be possible here if Renault really wants to purchase 24 GWh. According to Envision project manager Kurose, output could still be increased with several smaller factories – but this is still being examined.
The battery factory in Douai is part of the eMobility industry cluster Renault ElectriCity, which was also announced in the summer. Under the new umbrella company, the electric car activities of the Renault plants in Douai, Maubeuge and Ruitz in northern France are to be bundled and 400,000 vehicles per year are to be built from 2025. From the Douai battery plant, Renault plans to source NMC cells with a more “affordable” cell chemistry for the volume vehicles. Performance cells will continue to be supplied by long-time battery partner LG Energy Solution. Renault has also entered into a partnership with the French start-up Verkor, from which the carmaker plans to source up to ten GWh of high-performance cells (probably mainly for the electric Alpine models).
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