Weeks after battery developer Gotion-High Tech acquired a 25% stake in startup InoBat, the two companies have signed an agreement to erect a gigafactory in Europe. As a Tier 1 battery supplier to its top shareholder Volkswagen Group, Gotion will look to InoBat to help it provide the German automaker and other marques with EV batteries… but where will the joint venture set up shop?
Gotion High-Tech Co., Ltd. specializes in battery R&D and energy solutions that is headquartered in China, but continues to expand production to new territories all over the world. For example, the company is in the process of expanding to Vietnam via a joint venture with VinES – the energy division of VinFast.
Earlier this week, Gotion rolled a battery off an assembly line in the university town of Göttingen, Germany – its first product assembled in Europe. That milestone was joined by news of several new customer contracts in Europe, including BASF, ABB, and Ebusco.
On September 1, Gotion High-Tech announced it had purchased a 25% stake in the Slovak EV battery startup InoBat – the first investment in a European startup by any Chinese battery maker. The investment builds off of previous plans to explore joint ventures in EV battery and energy storage development.
At the time Gotion said it would provide InoBat with raw materials plus share its R&D, cell production, and battery recycling know-how to help expedite the former’s technology into mass production.
Today, we’ve learned the two companies have signed on for a potential joint venture that will expand EV battery production in Europe to support local automaker’s like Gotion’s partial owner VW Group and beyond.
Gotion and InoBat look to establish plant in middle Europe
InoBat shared details of its collaboration with Gotion High-Tech today, which includes a signed pre-joint venture agreement to erect a new gigafactory in Europe. The future Gotion InoBat Battery (GIB) gigafactory is expected to begin operations with a capacity of 20 GWh and create thousands of local jobs. Where those jobs will be stationed however, is less clear at this time.
InoBat CEO Marián Boček explained that both partners are considering a number of options in Europe and have it narrowed down to the “Middle-European region.” Boček also said the joint venture is seeking state support from both a financial and permitting standpoint. He went on:
Europe has great potential, strategic location and a long tradition in the automotive industry,. InoBat has proven that in a relatively short time it can choose a suitable location, successfully manage the permitting process and complete the construction of such an extremely complex technology as a battery factory. Our R&D centre and pilot line in Voderady are progressing and the technology is already working there.
As part of Volkswagen Group’s 24.77% ownership of Gotion High-Tech, the latter has an exclusive contract to supply the former with EV batteries outside of China. The new partners explained that localizing battery production in Europe will reduce the need for long-distance transport, thus reducing emissions and strengthening competitiveness locally.
Gotion and InoBat state that construction in Europe is scheduled to begin in 2024 with a full launch in 2026. While the initial footprint should deliver a 20 GWh capacity, the partners state the future gigafactory could expand to nearly 250 acres, creating thousands more jobs.
When complete, the central Europe gigafactory will join Gotion’s other two plants in the works – a $2.36 million facility in Michigan and a $2 billion plant in Illinois announced last week.
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