Renault acquires stake in battery developer Verkor as Gigafactory vision takes shape

Renault Group has acquired a stake of more than 20% in French industrial firm Verkor that will help with the development of high-performance battery cells for electric vehicles (EVs) and the creation of a European 'Gigafactory'.

Renault acquires stake in battery developer Verkor as Gigafactory vision takes shape

A total annual capacity target of 50 GWh has been set for 2030

Renault joins the likes of EIT InnoEnergy, Groupe IDEC, Schneider Electric and Capgemini in acquiring a stake in Verkor. The stake is worth more than 20% of the company and will support the French firm in the creation of the “Verkor Innovation Centre”, which will act as a research and development facility for EV battery cells and modules. The facility will be located in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region in France.

Renault will also benefit from the creation of Verkor’s first Gigafactory, which is due to start operations in 2023. The initial capacity of the facility will reach 16 GWh, of which 10 GWh will be ringfenced for Renault vehicles and applications. A total annual capacity target of 50 GWh has been set for 2030, of which 20 GWh will go to Renault.

Verkor’s chief executive Benoit Lemaignan said: “We are proud to be associated with Renault Group and look forward to delivering on our common vision to roll out e-mobility on a larger scale through this partnership. This is a first step in a series of major announcements to come over the following weeks which will demonstrate our progress in our plan to generate up to 50 GWh of battery cell production capacity by 2030 – a cornerstone in developing a competitive, sovereign and sustainable battery supply chain in Europe.”

As well as its namesake brand, Renault owns Dacia, Alpine, LADA and MOBILIZE, the latter of which is its mobility, energy and data services arm.

The Group as a whole has committed to carbon neutrality in Europe by 2050, in line with the EU’s Green New Deal commitments. It claims it is the largest EV player in Europe in terms of sales, with more than one in four EVs sold across the continent coming from a Renault Group brand. Under its ‘Drive the Future’ strategic plan, the business will offer an electrified version of all models by 2022.

The company has recently launched a new recycling initiative that is being delivered as part of a consortium partnership spearheaded by resource management giant Veolia and innovation firm Solvay.

It will see the companies working together to improve and scale up existing recycling processes for end-of-life EV batteries – both mechanical and hydrometallurgical.

Solvay and Veolia have already worked together to trial a process that enables metals extracted from used batteries to be purified to the point that they are ready for reuse in new batteries. Many existing processes, the firms claim, cannot get strategic metals like cobalt, nickel and lithium to this purity level.

“By joining forces with Verkor, we are accelerating the production of high-performance low-carbon batteries in France, for Europe,” Renault Group’s chief executive Luca de Meo said.

“This project will benefit from Verkor team’s cutting-edge skills in the cell industry. Attracting and retaining top global talents, coming from over 14 countries, the Verkor team capitalises on a unique experience in the battery field.”

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Matt Mace

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