Une giga-factory will set up in the coming months in Dunkirk (North), driven by the Grenoble start-up Verkor. The latter, supported by Renault, the Schneider Electric group or Arkema, announced on Tuesday 1er February, having chosen the Nord sub-prefecture to set up its low-carbon battery cell factory.
The installation of the new Verkor site, where more than 1,200 people are expected to work, is planned not far from two other factories also specializing in electric batteries: there is already that of the Sino-Japanese AESC/Envision in the Electricity division of Renault, near Douai (North), and that of Stellantis and TotalEnergies in Douvrin (North), where production is due to start in 2023.
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This very symbolic announcement for the future of the automotive industry in France was made almost simultaneously on Tuesday evening by the company, the LR president of the Hauts-de-France regional council Xavier Bertrand and President Emmanuel Macron. “It is a project for which there was European competition and which, for its first phase, concerns 1,200 direct jobs and 3,000 indirect jobs”, welcomed the latter in an interview with The voice of the North.
Potential of 2,000 direct jobs
While Europe is targeting 25% of global battery production by 2030 (compared to 3% in 2020), to catch up with China and protect its automotive industry, dozens of battery factory projects have been announced on the continent. The group of electric batteries Northvolt announced, at the end of December, to have launched the production of the first giga-factory of a European group, in Sweden.
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The establishment of Verkor in Dunkirk “makes Hauts-de-France the battery valley, an essential segment for producing the electric cars of tomorrow on our soil”, declared Mr. Macron. “We stopped the industrial haemorrhage three years ago with reforms that no one had dared to carry out for decades. We have changed the image of France,” he said.
The first delivery of batteries from the Dunkirk plant is scheduled for July 2025, with a capacity that should increase from 16 gigawatt hours (GWh) in 2025 to 50 GWh in 2030, enough to equip several hundred thousand electric vehicles each year. . The project provides for “low carbon and high performance” batteries, therefore for sports and high-end vehicles, such as Renault’s future electric Alpines, manufactured in Normandy.
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According to the Hauts-de-France region, the installation represents “a total investment of 2.5 billion euros and a potential term of nearly 2,000 direct jobs and 5,000 indirect jobs”. More specifically, 800 direct jobs are expected for “the first phase of the project”. At “horizon 2028-2030”, a “potential of around 2,000 direct jobs and 5,000 indirect jobs is announced”.
Mr. Bertrand welcomed “very good news for Hauts-de-France, because it will create jobs of course, but also because it constitutes recognition of our economic strategy”. Construction of the plant on a 150-hectare site is due to begin in 2023, after a public consultation process. Research and development will remain based in Grenoble, Verkor said.
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