Battery manufacturer Envision AESC has announced plans to invest two billion US dollars in a new factory in the US state of Kentucky. The factory at the Kentucky Transpark in Bowling Green in Warren County will be designed for an annual capacity of 30 gigawatt-hours and will produce battery cells and modules for electric cars from several manufacturers.
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A later expansion of the factory, which is to create around 2,000 jobs, to 40 GWh per year is possible, according to the office of Governor Andy Beshear (Democrat). However, it does not say whether the expansion is already included in the equivalent of 1.8 billion euros. According to Beshear, this is “the second largest investment in economic development Kentucky has ever seen”.
One of the customers for the battery cells will probably be Mercedes-Benz: when the Stuttgart company opened their own battery assembly in Alabama in mid-March, it was also announced that Envision AESC would be a major supplier. “Envision AESC will be a major supplier securing capacity for the next generations of our Mercedes-EQ products built in the US in the years to come,” it was said at the time. At the Tuscaloosa vehicle plant, Mercedes will build the EQS SUV, which will be unveiled next week. The smaller EQE SUV is to follow later.
What cell formats and chemistries Envision AESC will build in Kentucky is not clear from the governor’s memo. It says that the factory will be powered 100 per cent by renewable energy, some of which will be generated on-site. The partner for the energy supply is the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA); the state-owned company operates several hydroelectric power plants along the Tennessee River.
“The Bowling Green area has an outstanding automotive workforce today, as well as the future pipeline of talent needed, and we are excited to support this with new jobs in the high growth electrification segment,” said Jeff Deaton, managing director of Envision AESC US. “The addition of this new facility will make Kentucky the new gigafactory capital of the U.S., well positioned to meet the forecasted growth of EVs and attract future investment.”
Shoichi Matsumoto, CEO of Envision AESC Group, added: “This commitment takes us one step further toward our ambition to make high-performance, longer-range batteries for a diverse range of automotive manufacturers worldwide to support the EV transition.”
Kentucky is funding the plant with $116.8 million from state incentive programmes, in addition to $5 million for a continuing education programme.
Envision AESC is headquartered in Japan and was founded in 2007 as a joint venture between three Japanese companies. Since the focus of the ‘Automotive Energy Supply Company’ (AESC) was on electric vehicles from the beginning, Nissan was the largest shareholder with 51 per cent. In 2018, however, the Chinese company Envision acquired a majority stake in AESC.
Since this takeover, Envision AESC already has a cell factory in the USA: not far from the Nissan vehicle plant in Smyrna (Tennessee), Envision AESC produces battery cells for the Japanese manufacturer.
Envision AESC is still an important supplier to the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance: the company is building a new cell factory next to the Nissan plant in Sunderland, UK, as well as in Douai, France, as part of Renault’s eMobility industry cluster ElectriCity.
Update 31 August 2022:
Japanese battery manufacturer Envision AESC has broken ground on its factory in the US state of Kentucky. The plant is to produce cells and modules for electric cars of several manufacturers, including Mercedes-Benz. Announced in April, the battery plant at the Kentucky Transpark in Bowling Green will initially be designed for an annual capacity of 30 gigawatt-hours and can later be expanded to 40 GWh. Battery cells manufactured there are expected to offer 30 per cent higher energy density than the current generation. As reported, Envision AESC is also planning a battery cell factory in Spain. This is to be built in Navalmoral de la Mata and go into operation in 2025 with a capacity of up to 50 GWh.
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