AESC kicks off construction of battery plant in South Carolina
Battery cell manufacturer AESC (formerly Envision AESC) has begun construction of its new factory in the US state of South Carolina, which will supply BMW with cylindrical cells in the future. Announced in December 2022, the production facility in Florence County is scheduled to come on stream in 2026.
AESC is planning an annual capacity of 30 gigawatt-hours for the plant, which is estimated to cost 810 million US dollars, and wants to supply the BMW plant in Spartanburg with cylindrical cells from Florence County. BMW aims to produce at least six all-electric BMW X models there by 2030. Envision AESC is one of three battery partners for BMW’s New Class, along with Chinese manufacturers CATL and Eve Energy.
Through these partnerships, BMW wants to purchase the battery cells where the production also takes place (“local for local”). In the USA, the plans come together in South Carolina, where BMW operates the Spartanburg vehicle plant (primarily for SUV models).
As is known, BMW’s round cells will have a uniform diameter of 46 millimetres and two different heights. According to as yet unconfirmed information, the cells will be 95 and 120 millimetres high. One thing is clear: according to BMW, the module level will be omitted during installation. The round cells will be “flexibly integrated into the installation space in a space-saving manner”. The storage system takes on a supporting role in the body structure. In technical jargon, this battery concept is called “pack-to-open-body”.
It has been known for some time that the vehicles of the ‘New Class’ will use an 800-volt system with up to 350 kW charging power in addition to this battery concept. In this way, a significantly increased charging performance can be achieved with direct current charging at a current strength of up to 500 amperes, BMW recently specified. “The time required for charging from ten to 80 per cent is reduced by up to 30 per cent.”
For its part, AESC will increase its production capacity in the US to more than 70 GWh with the new plant, which will complement an existing battery manufacturing facility in Tennessee (near the Nissan plant there) and a factory under construction in Kentucky (for the Mercedes plant in Tuscaloosa, among others).
Envision AESC is headquartered in Japan and was founded in 2007 as a joint venture between three Japanese companies. As 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.