Project undertaken by China’s Envision AESC saluted as an example of Emmanuel Macron’s efforts to make country a hub for cutting-edge technologies
(AF) French President Emmanuel Macron has applauded plans for a Chinese-owned battery factory that will supply Renault as Europe steps up its shift toward electric vehicles (EVs).
The 2-billion euro project near Douai, in the Hauts-de-France region, by China’s Envision AESC is has been hailed as a successful effort by Macron to encourage foreign firms to “Choose France” for investment, particularly cutting-edge technologies.
“With this project, we’re going to invest more than 200 million euros alongside the companies, investors and local governments,” Macron told executives and local officials at the site.
“It’s this united France, that knows how to work together… that will allow us to advance and win back our industry, win back our strength, and be both productive and fair,” he said.
The Lambres-lez-Douai project will be the second so-called battery “gigafactory” in France, after the plant planned by rival automaker Stellantis and energy giant TotalEnergies.
About 1,000 jobs will be created over the next three years by a project that aims to revive three Renault factories that have struggled for years. The company hopes to build 500,000 vehicles annually at the sites by 2025.
“We see this as a win-win relationship between Renault, Envision and the French government,” Envision chief Lei Zhang told Agence France-Presse. “This wouldn’t have been possible two years ago. It’s the right time now thanks to the French recovery plan,” he said.
Europe has been ramping up efforts to build gigafactories, with 40 projects started so far.
“The development in Europe of a battery supply chain that is both resilient and sustainable is essential for the future and the energy transition of the automobile industry,” Roshan Gya, southern and central Europe director at Capgemini Invent, said.
Macron, a former investment banker, hosted an annual gathering of foreign executives at the Palace of Versailles, where 3.5 billion euros worth of projects are to be unveiled.
On Tuesday he will attend the inauguration of the Paris headquarters for the US bank JP Morgan, which will house its post-Brexit European market operations.
With reporting by Agence France-Presse