EU could be self-sufficient in electric vehicle batteries by 2025

The European Union (EU) could produce enough batteries by 2025 to power its fast-growing fleet of electric vehicles without relying on imported cells, according to European Commission vice president Maros Sefcovic.

As part of its plan to become climate neutral by 2050, the EU wants to boost local production of the building blocks for green industries – including hydrogen fuel to make low-carbon steel and batteries to power clean vehicles.

“I am confident that by 2025, the EU will be able to produce enough battery cells to meet the needs of the European automotive industry, and even to build our export capacity,” Sefcovic told an online European conference on the subject.

Today, China hosts roughly 80% of the world’s lithium-ion cell production, but Europe’s capacity is set to expand fast.

Europe has 15 large-scale battery cell factories under construction, including Swedish company Northvolt’s plants in Sweden and Germany, Chinese battery maker CATL’s German facility, and South Korean firm SK Innovation’s second plant in Hungary.

Sefcovic said by 2025, planned European facilities would produce enough cells to power at least 6 million electric vehicles.

While the coronavirus pandemic has seen overall car sales plummet, combined sales of battery and plug-in hybrid cars in Europe are expected to roughly double this year, to one million units, according to the NGO Transport & Environment.

However, with the Commission expecting 13 million low-emission vehicles on Europe’s roads by 2025, further investments will be needed.

Sefcovic said the EU’s previously established 750 billion euro ($890 billion) coronavirus recovery fund was a “ready-made tool” to support projects.

Brussels will next month propose standards for the carbon footprint of batteries, while a private-public EU alliance aims to boost domestic supplies of the raw materials needed to make cells.

Sefcovic’s comments follow those of Peter Altmaier, Germany’s Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy, who outlined his government’s support for the greater production of battery cells in order to become less dependent on suppliers from Asia.

“We want to support the creation of a complete value chain for battery cells in Europe: from the processing of raw materials to battery cell production to recycling,” Altmaier said.

Altmaier added that, in future, the most innovative and environmentally friendly battery cells should come from Europe.