Currently, the transport sector is the major contributor to the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions. However, only a little progress has been made to reduce emissions in the past three decades. As a measure, the UK government spearheaded the shift to environmentally-friendly vehicles and is expected to witness a 28% increase in car ownership, rising from 34 million cars owned today to 43.6 million in 2050.
On the similar lines, a French industrial company Verkor based in Grenoble is gearing up to amplify battery cell production in Europe. It eyes to massively accelerate the transition to electric vehicles on the road by building a competitive and sustainable European battery value chain.
Now, the company announced that has secured €100 million (nearly £85.5 million) in funding co-led by EQT Ventures and Renault Group along with participation from the French Government and Auvergne- Rhône-Alpes Region. Also, EIT InnoEnergy, Groupe IDEC, Schneider Electric, Capgemini, Arkema, Tokai COBEX and the Fund for Ecologic Modernisation of Transport (FMET) managed by Demeter participated in this round.
Construction of VIC in Grenoble
The investment will be used to support the expansion of Verkor and accelerate the construction of VIC (Verkor Innovation Centre). It is at this centre where the advanced battery cells and modules will be designed to support the net-zero goals of Europe.
All partners are united by the vision to build a competitive, sustainable, and local battery cell value chain in Europe. Verkor will deliver on this with a battery cell manufacturing capacity of 16 GWh in 2024, scaling to +50 GWh by 2030. The VIC, which will be located in Grenoble and operational in 2022, is a major milestone in achieving this vision.
It will accommodate a pilot line for battery cell manufacturing, an R&D centre, testing facilities, module prototyping, and provide training for a new generation of engineers and technicians.
At a signing ceremony in Paris today, Verkor’s CEO BenoitLemaignan said: “We are honoured to have shareholders of such a high quality on board with us. I want to thank our team for what we have achieved together in less than a year of existence. Our new shareholding structure totally reflects our ambition: an end-to-end approach to battery manufacturing, each of us focusing on what we do best, while cross-fertilising our expertise.”
Gregory Bernstein, Investor at EQT Ventures: “The world’s energy transition to net zero will require innovation excellence, execution, and bold vision.This is also exactly what we look for in the teams that we want to invest in and why we at EQT Venturesare thrilled to join our other partners in backing the Verkor team on their journey to lead the way in Europe.”
Agnès Pannier-Runacher, the French Minister of Industry: “I welcome this new partnership which is another building block in the industrial and technological ecosystem for batteries in France and in Europe. With the automotive industry facing unprecedented challenges, the investments we make today will turn into tomorrow’s jobs. We are supporting Verkor’sgrowth through CORAM, the French orientation committee for automotive and mobility research, which is financed by the French future investment programme, the PIA. Our goal is to accelerate the development of innovative digital processes for battery cell manufacturing, which will be implemented in the future Gigafactory”.
Also present at the ceremony was Maroš Šefčovič, the EU Commission’s VP for Interinstitutional Relations and Foresight said: “This partnership is yet further proof that the European Battery Alliance is making real difference on the ground. In three years, Europe has become a global hotspot for battery investment, showing that we can achieve open strategic autonomy in this key industrial sector. None of this would have been possible without the dedication and collaboration of all actors, including our industryand our MemberStates – with France, thanks to its strong commitment to sustainable mobility, clearly among our leading forces.”
Partnership with Renault
Founded by Christophe Mille, Benoit Lemaignan, Sylvain Paineau, Philippe Chain, Gilles Moreau, and Olivier Dufour in 2020, Verkor will ramp up low-carbon battery manufacturing in France and Southern Europe to meet the growing demand for electric vehicles and electric mobility as a whole and stationary storage in Europe.
Notably, Verkor signed a partnership with Renault Group last week under which it will supply an initial capacity of at least 10 GWh per year for the C and higher segments of the Renault range as well as for the Alpine models.