France welcomes EV battery factories with open arms.

France Rolls Out the Red Carpet for EV Battery Makers

France is making a big push to become a hub for the EV battery industry, with President Emmanuel Macron personally lobbying for investment and offering generous subsidies to battery makers. The country hopes to attract carmakers looking to secure greater control over their supply chains and bring plants making EV batteries closer to their manufacturing sites. Macron hopes to transform the former coal mining area near Belgium into a hub for the EV battery industry, creating jobs and helping to put France at the forefront of Europe’s energy transition.

“Results don’t just fall from the sky. It’s in line with what we’ve been doing for six years. France is adapting to the world.”

Race Within Europe

France is presenting the conversion of its once-industrialised north into a gigafactory hub as a victory for European economic and manufacturing sovereignty in the face of stiff U.S. and Chinese competition. However, Macron’s activism also highlights the growing rivalry between European governments to land high-profile investments from car companies and their suppliers.

  • ProLogium
  • China’s Envision AESC
  • Local startup Verkor
  • The ACC consortium including Mercedes and Stellantis

These companies are setting up gigafactories in the same area, and officials said France is courting Chinese EV giant BYD and Tesla to build car plants too.

Playing Catch Up

France is catching up with Germany when it comes to attracting battery makers, thanks to its largesse in funding projects upfront. To bag the ProLogium solid-state battery plant, France offered incentives worth more than 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion). For the 2.3 billion euro plant opened by ACC, France provided about 840 million euros in subsidies, including funds for research and development, according to the finance ministry.

Macron lobbied Brussels to let EU member states match the kind of subsidies Washington is throwing at the EV industry under the IRA. The EU agreed in February to loosen state aid rules, paving the way for France to unveil a green tax credit package, which can be worth up to 40% of a company’s capital investment in wind, solar, heat-pump and battery projects.

A Charming Guy

According to a French presidential adviser, what sealed the deal with ProLogium was a promise by Macron that he would attend the signing ceremony in person, and give ProLogium a welcome publicity boost. “Macron is a charming guy,” ProLogium’s CEO Vincent Yang told Reuters, when asked about the French version of events. He added, though, that the cheap electricity from the nearby Gravelines nuclear power plant was just as important, if not more so.

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