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French Energy Co Saft to Begin Producing Next-Gen EV Batteries by 2020

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【Summary】France's Saft, a subsidiary of energy company Total, expects to begin mass production of next-generation lithium ion batteries starting in early 2020. Saft is part of a four-way European battery alliance between Siemens AG, Manz AG and Belgian chemical company Solvay.

FutureCar Staff    Sep 13, 2018 12:46 PM PT
French Energy Co Saft to Begin Producing Next-Gen EV Batteries by 2020
resource from: Automotive News Europe   

France's Saft, a subsidiary of energy company Total, expects to begin mass production of next-generation lithium ion batteries starting in early 2020 Automotive News Europe reported. Saft is part of a four-way European battery alliance between Siemens AG, Manz AG and Belgian chemical company Solvay.

The goal of the alliance is to develop high-density liquid electrolyte lithium ion and solid state batteries for electric vehicles in a race against competitors from Asia.

"The performance levels we are targeting are very much better than what we have today. We are looking at performance levels that are 50 percent better in terms of energy density," Jean-Baptiste Pernot, Saft's director of operations, told Reuters.

In the first half of 2020, the alliance aims to begin mass production of third-generation liquid electrolyte lithium ion batteries, Pernot said. By 2022, it aims to roll out what he called a generation 3B liquid electrolyte lithium ion battery before offering a solid state lithium ion battery in 2024.

Pernot dismissed doubts about the alliance raised by sector analysts, telling Reuters the four-company agreement was on track and confirming Saft plans to invest 200-300 million euros ($232-347 million) in research and development. Pernot said fourth-generation batteries would offer gains in safety and design constraints which have had an impact on costs, particularly for electric vehicles. Most EVs use liquid electrolyte lithium ion batteries.

The battery market is currently dominated by Asian players including China's BYD and CATL, and South Korea's Samsung SDI and LG Chem, which are all looking to set up battery production factories in Europe. In July, CATL announced it will build its first European production facility in Germany and signed a deal with BMW to supply its EV batteries.

U.S. electric automaker Tesla built the world's largest battery factory in Nevada in a partnership with Japan's Panasonic. The factory is building batteries for the Tesla Model 3 and Tesla's Powerwall. Panasonic is the sole battery cell supplier for Tesla's vehicles. In July, Tesla said it would increase production at the factory by 30 percent to meet demand.

Northvolt, a Swedish company founded by two former Tesla executives, aims to build Europe's largest lithium ion battery factory, producing 32 gigawatt hours (GWh) of battery cells a year by 2023.

"The European battery market by 2025 will be in the range of 150 gigawatt hours (GWh) to 200 GWh - and probably twice as much in 2030 - while the largest plant in the world today is around 20 GWh. That means there is room for several actors," Pernot said.

"For a player to be competitive in the mass market for electric vehicles, it will need factories greater than 10 GWh in size," Pernot said. Pernot said Saft's third-generation batteries would offer a first step into the auto sector and the company was already in talks with some automakers and other end-users to understand future needs. He declined to give details.

"Automakers are currently thinking about models that will come out around 2022-2023, so it is still the right time."

Pernot said the backing of energy producer Total, which acquired Saft in 2016 for around $1 billion, would allow the firm to invest in advanced battery technology. "The amount of investment to become a battery champion by 2030 is in the billions of euros, and closer to the tens of billions," he said.

resource from: Automotive News Europe

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