The Another

    Northern France dreams of becoming Europe’s battery valley



    On the ACC gigafactory construction site in Douvrin, northern France, on February 13, 2023.

    French President Emmanuel Macron confirmed on Friday, May 12, the arrival of Taiwanese battery maker ProLogium in Northern France. The company will build a new factory in Dunkirk after auditing some 40 locations. For Macron, who visited the region on Friday, the news represents an opportunity to highlight his action in favor of the reindustrialization of the country. “This territory perfectly embodies our policy, with both a transformation of the actors in place and a strong attractiveness,” the Elysée said. The presidency sees the announcement as the cornerstone of a sequence devoted to praising the government’s pro-business efforts as well as its good economic results. “Our record is credible, that’s what gives investors confidence,” it said.

    Read more France bears the first fruits of reindustrialization

    ProLogium, whose technology makes it possible to produce batteries with shorter charging times, plans to invest €5.2 billion and create 3,000 jobs by 2030. The company, which has already built its first mass production line in Taiwan, was considering France, Poland, the Netherlands and Germany for a second plant. Dunkirk, which has land available on its port site, has won. ProLogium plans to produce 50-60 gigawatt hours (GWh) on a 180-hectare site. This would be enough to equip 500,000-700,000 electric vehicles per year.

    Dunkirk is known as one of the three “D” cities which, along with other northern municipalities of Douai and Douvrin, form the future electric battery valley that the region is to become. This will not be the region’s first reindustrialization. After the closure of its mines and most of its steel industry, it has become the leading automotive region in France. Renault has three factories there, as does Stellantis, while Toyota has one, making up for 56,000 jobs in total. Now it aspires to make its mark on the European electric vehicle market.

    The region is already home to all of France’s gigafactory projects for the automotive industry. In Douvrin, ACC, a company operated by Stellantis, TotalEnergies and Mercedes, is running the most advanced of the three. The machines, installed in 1,800 containers and shipped from China and South Korea, went through the port of Dunkirk. ACC is aiming to produce 40 GWh per year by 2030 – enough to equip more than 500,000 electric cars – and promises to create 1,000-2,000 jobs in the longer term. The first batteries will leave the plant, scheduled to open on May 30, in September.

    ‘Total gamble’

    About 30 kilometers away, the China-Japan company Envision is setting up in Douai, next to the Renault factory. It will initially supply batteries for Renault’s next R4 and R5 cars and expects to create at least 1,000 jobs. French company Verkor, meanwhile, is expecting to create 1,500 positions at its plant, planned on the Zone grandes industries (Large Industries Zone) in the port of Dunkirk. In 2025, it is expected to produce 16 GWh (equipping 300,000 electric cars), then 50 GWh in 2030 (for one million cars). Verkor, a Grenoble-based start-up, has invested €500 million in a 100,000-square-meter plant.

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