It would appear that next-generation cars manufactured for the Citroën brand will benefit from a major investment Groupe PSA announced on February 3, 2020 (through its German Opel brand) with French battery manufacturer Saft (part of Total since 2016) for two lithium-ion EV battery cell plants to be built in Europe. The first of the two plants will be constructed in France and the second in Germany – with a total of 48 GWh of installed manufacturing capacity.

Illustration of the new Automotive Cell Company EV battery plant.

The French-German alliance intends to establish a joint venture named Automotive Cell Company (ACC), with a total output of 48 GWh annually by 2030 through a €5 billion investment, supported by nearly €1.3 billion in public funding from the European Union.

The project will leverage cutting-edge R&D, notably provided by Saft, in order to produce EV batteries starting in 2023 with the aim of offering the highest level of energy performance, both in terms of range and charging time, and a lower carbon footprint than that of the competition while setting a new standard in Europe.

The plan is divided into phases:

  • The €200 million pilot plant to be launched in mid-2021 at Saft’s Nersac facility”The first phase of the project focuses on R&D, including building a pilot plant on the land of Saft’s Nersac facility. The plant is scheduled to start up in mid-2021 and represents an investment of 200 million euros. The project will generate around 200 high-skilled jobs in France’s Nouvelle-Aquitaine region to develop, qualify and commercially scale up new, high-performance lithium-ion batteries.
  • An 8 GWh gigafactory to be built in the northern Hauts-de-France region in France starting in 2023 (then expanded to 16 GWh and to 24 GWh)
  • An 8 GWh gigafactory to be built in Rhineland-Palatinate state in Germany (then expanded to 16 GWh and to 24 GWh)
  • The total output to be 48 GWh by 2030 (2x 24 GWh). [The first phase will trigger the investment decision for a large-scale production plant (8 GWh initially, rising to 24 GWh later on) in the northern Hauts-de-France region, followed by a second one of equal capacity in Germany, in order to reach 48 GWh of combined capacity by 2030.]

According to the expected demand for 400 GWh of lithium-ion cells for EVs in Europe around 2030, the ACC would account for about 10-15% market share.

The Automotive Cell Company (ACC) ownership will be 50-50 between Saft and Groupe PSA initially but then PSA takes control during the commercial production phase, Saft’s share in ACC will decline to 33%.