Chinese firm Envision eyes more projects in Europe after $2.4b battery plant in France
Published: Jun 28, 2021 09:01 PM
A view of Envision AESC's battery plant in the UK Photo: Courtesy of Envision AESC

A view of Envision AESC's battery plant in the UK in 2019 Photo: Courtesy of Envision AESC

Chinese electric vehicle (EV) battery producer Envision Group is eying more cooperation in Europe following plans to build a $2.4 billion battery plant in northern France, the company's CEO told the Global Times.

Envision AESC, the battery unit of the Shanghai-based Chinese group, aims to produce 9 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of batteries in 2024 and 24 GWh by 2030 to power Renault's EVs. The investment is estimated at 2 billion euros ($2.4 billion). 

The company has pledged to create 1,000 local jobs by 2024 and 2,500 by the end of the decade. French President Emmanuel Macron was scheduled to unveil the agreements on Monday at Renault's assembly plant in Douai, where the Envision battery plant will be located.

Envision CEO Zhang Lei told the Global Times in an interview that the expansion into France reflects considerations of France's economic scale, continuous investment in the green revolution and China-France economic ties.

"The battery plant is the beginning of our cooperation. We will have comprehensive strategic cooperation with Renault, including green factories, zero-carbon technology, and the deployment of a smart charging infrastructure in Europe. This is just a starting point," Zhang said.

Envision AESC has been holding in-depth discussions about technological cooperation with all major global automakers, "and Tesla is not excluded," Zhang added.

The move further expands the overseas footprint of Chinese EV battery companies backed by advanced technology and talent.

Industry observers said that European governments are making heavy investments to expand their capacity in the EV battery sector to boost their presence in the supply chain, which has been dominated by Asian players mainly from China and South Korea.

"In battery making, Europe doesn't have obvious advantage, as the Asian battery industry has both raw materials and technology. That's why Europe is rushing to invest further to boost the sector," Yu Qingjiao, secretary general of the Zhongguancun New Battery Technology Innovation Alliance, told the Global Times.

"We cannot say that the current EV battery market in Europe is completely untapped, since there are many competitors, but it's really an open and broad market where advantages like technology, quality, talent and strategy could help to win," Zhang noted.

French carmaker Renault is among the European carmakers that have been actively mapping out a transformation toward green mobility.

Volvo Car Group announced last week that it was planning to establish a joint venture with leading Swedish battery company Northvolt. 

Volkswagen said it would get out of the combustion engine vehicle business between 2033 and 2035. The German auto giant said earlier that it would build or open six battery factories across Europe by 2030.