VW, Renault, China battery giant CATL speed growth of Europe's e-plant network

Volkswagen Group, Renault Group and China's leading battery maker, Contemporary Amperex Technology, have made big moves to expand Europe's network of plants that will support the shift to vehicles with electrified powertrains.

Renault will invest 1 billion euros to make France a "center of excellence" for its electric vehicles. The automaker will introduce a new electric platform at its factory in Douai. In Flins, production capacity for the small Zoe EV hatchback will be doubled, while in Maubeuge the automaker will invest in the next generation of the full-electric Kangoo van. Renault will also triple electric motor output in Cleon and introduce a new-generation motor there.

CATL is building a plant in Erfurt, Germany, to supply lithium ion batteries to automakers in Europe including BMW, which has said that it will source about 4 billion euros ($4.7 billion) worth of battery cells from CATL. The batteries are slated for models such as the production version of BMW’s Vision iNext full-electric SUV, which will go into production in 2021.

Volkswagen Group, the region’s No. 1 automaker, retains the biggest electric manufacturing footprint in the region this year, with 14 plants for its brands including Audi and Porsche. VW is investing 1 billion euros to convert its factory in Zwickau, Germany, into a production center for MEB-based vehicles for the VW, Audi and Seat brands. VW says the plant will be Europe's largest competence center for electric vehicles. EV production will start in Zwickau in 2019 with the VW brand's Golf-sized I.D. electric hatchback.

Next on the list is Renault-Nissan-AvtoVAZ with 10 e-factories in Europe. Daimler, along with its wholly owned subsidiary Accumotive, takes third place with eight plants.

Overall, Automotive News Europe's E-Car and Component Map shows 61 sites producing electrified vehicles, batteries and components in the region. The industry is increasingly moving toward electrification in a bid to cut pollution and meet stringent EU emissions targets and the map is constantly changing to reflect this.

Sponsored by ElringKlinger, the E-Car and Component Map is the go-to resource for those wishing to stay on top of developments in Europe's push toward electrification.

Karin B. Holly contributed

You can reach David Jolley at djolley@crain.com.