LONDON, Sept 18 (Reuters) – Chinese battery maker Gotion High Tech and Slovak start-up Inobat said on Monday they would jointly build an electric vehicle battery factory in Europe by 2026, with initial production of 20 gigawatt hours (GWh).
Construction of the factory will begin in 2024 and after full production launches in 2026, Inobat CEO Marian Bocek said in a statement that production can then be gradually increased.
Bocek said the companies were finalizing a location for the factory, with several European countries under consideration.
The announcement comes just over two weeks after the companies said Gotion was buying a 25% stake in Inobat and would provide the startup with supply chain and technology support as it ramps up production batteries for electric vehicles.
Gotion’s largest shareholder is Volkswagen and has an “exclusive contract with Volkswagen to supply batteries for electric vehicles outside China,” Inobat and the Chinese battery maker said on Monday.
Gotion is also building a $2.36 billion battery plant in Michigan and a $2 billion factory in Illinois.
Europe’s efforts to develop its own electric vehicle battery industry and reduce its dependence on dominant Asian battery makers have allowed only a few companies to attract continued investment, startup funding having dried up amid high interest rates and economic uncertainty.
Last month, Swedish lithium-ion battery producer Northvolt, whose customers include Volkswagen and Volvo Cars, told Reuters it had raised $1.2 billion from investors.
And last week, French battery startup Verkor announced it had secured more than 2 billion euros ($2.13 billion) in funding to build a gigafactory in Dunkirk.
Inobat currently has a pilot battery production line in Slovakia and has also signed declarations of intent with the Spanish and Serbian governments to build battery factories for electric vehicles. ($1 = 0.9378 euros) (Reporting by Nick Carey; editing by David Evans)