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China's SVOLT aims to make battery cells in Europe from 2023

Reuters 2019-09-10 13:09:00

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - SVOLT Energy Technology, which was carved out of China’s Great Wall Motor Co, is aiming to start production of battery cells in Europe in early 2023, an executive said during the Frankfurt car show.

Site selection for the plant, which will involve an investment of over 2 billion euros ($2.21 billion), “will be completed by the end of the year,” Jeffrey Yambrick, vice president of international marketing and sales at SVOLT, said on Tuesday.

Germany was of particular interest to the group, general manager Hongxin Yang told Reuters on the sidelines of the show, adding SVOLT was in constructive talks with the German government as well as several federal states.

SVOLT was looking at five different locations in Europe, Yang said, adding the group was talking to multiple European carmakers about supply contracts, with the first deals to be struck in 2020.

“With some OEMs (original equipment manufacturers), we’ve come very far in our talks, with some we’re in the early stages,” he said.

SVOLT was actively seeking partnerships to get its European factory off the ground, and was “not entering the market as a standalone activity,” said Kai-Uwe Wollenhaupt, president of SVOLT Europe.

The European plant, announced earlier this year, will ramp up annual production to 24 gigawatt hours by 2025, Yang said.

The group, in presentation slides shown at the show, also pointed to eastern Europe as a possible location for the plant.

Rival Contemporary Amperex Technology Co is spending up to 1.8 billion euros to build a battery cell-production site in the German city of Erfurt, one of a growing number of Asian players setting up shop in Europe.

SVOLT’s Yang said the group was also in talks with forklift makers in Europe and North America about potential supply deals.