The Renault Group has entered two major partnerships for the production of Li-ion batteries in France. The first is with Envision AESC—a long-standing partner of Nissan; the second is with Verkor, a Grenoble-based start-up specialized in development of EV battery cells.
Envision AESC which will develop a gigafactory in Douai with a capacity of 9 GWh in 2024 and with aim of reaching 24 GWh by 2030. As the battery arm of global green tech company Envision Group, it will invest up to €2 billion to produce latest technology, cost-competitive, low-carbon and safe batteries for electric models, including the future R5. Due to this partnership, Envision AESC forecasts 2,500 new jobs by 2030.
The proximity of the Envision AESC’s gigafactory to Renault ElectriCity production sites at Douai, Maubeuge and Ruitz, which will create 700 additional jobs in the Hauts-de-France region, means Renault Group can significantly boost its competitive edge and greatly improve the efficiency of its EV production chain.
Douai’s gigafactory opens the way for the production of low-carbon batteries as part of the objectives outlined in the European Green Deal and for the development of closed-loop recycling solutions for production waste and end-of-life batteries. In line with commitments made by the Renault Group, it will significantly contribute to achieving carbon neutrality in Europe by 2040 and worldwide by 2050, with EV sales making up 90% of all Renault brand sales by 2030.
Envision Group’s mission is to be the net zero technology partner of choice for global enterprises, governments, and cities. We are therefore delighted that Renault Group chose Envision AESC batteries for its next generation of EVs. Investing to build a new gigafactory in northern France, we aim to support the net zero carbon transition by making high performance, longer range batteries and EVs affordable and accessible for millions more motorists. This first phase development will unlock future large-scale investment to grow the local supply chain and develop the whole life cycle opportunities of batteries, including energy storage, battery reuse, smart charging and closed loop recycling. It has the potential to create thousands of new high value green jobs as part of an end-to-end battery ecosystem in the region.—Lei Zhang, founder and Chief Executive Officer of Envision Group
Renault Group signed a Memorandum of Understanding to become a shareholder of Verkor with a stake of over 20% in the company and plans to join the consortium that was created around the French start-up in 2020. The consortium aims at tackling challenges relating to digitalization, de-carbonization, and the strengthening the French and European industries within the sector.
Renault Group and Verkor intend to develop jointly a high-performance battery suitable for the C and higher segments of the Renault range, as well as for the Alpine models. Together with the consortium, they will help create of more than 200 direct jobs.
The initial phases of the partnership will involve the financing of a R&D center (Verkor Innovation Center) and a pilot line for battery cell and module prototyping and production in France as early as 2022. The second phase will see Verkor moving forward to create the first gigafactory for high performance batteries in France, with an initial capacity of 10 GWh for the Renault Group from 2026, potentially rising to 20 GWh by 2030.
Cooperation between Renault Group and Verkor will be based on a common road map to reduce carbon emissions from battery manufacturing by 75% compared to traditional process, and to establish a supply chain that allows traceability and secures the availability of raw materials used in EV models.
We are proud to be associated with Renault Group and look forward to delivering on our common vision of making e-mobility widely available, through this partnership. This is a major deal which demonstrates our progress along our roadmap 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.—Benoit Lemaignan, CEO of Verkor
The capital investment into Verkor is subject to the conditions that are normally applicable to this type of transaction, in particular the regulatory consultation of labor relations bodies.
These two most recent partnerships go hand in hand with existing programmes within Renault Group, in particular the agreement with LG Chem which currently supplies battery modules for Renault’s electric range and for the upcoming MéganE. In parallel, there are on-going discussions with ACC to join the ecosystem as of 2027. Research also continues within the Alliance to deploy solid battery technology from 2030, with the ASSB project (All Solid-State Battery technology).