France opens first of four battery gigafactories

STORY: France opened a major battery-making gigafactory on Tuesday (May 30).

It is the first of four such plants European and Asian companies plan to build in the country.

Named the Automotive Cells Company, the project is a joint venture between Stellantis, Mercedes and TotalEnergies, and it involves a total investment of $2.2 billion.

The French state and local authorities will provide half the funding.

French Finance Minister Bruno LeMaire attended Tuesday's opening.

"Today is a great day for industries in France, today is a great day for industries in Europe. For the first time since Airbus, France and Europe are creating a new industrial sector - the electric battery sector."

The factory shows the race between European governments to attract global car makers.

Leading companies want to bring the supply of components for electric vehicles closer to their main markets.

Europe currently depends on Asian firms for EV batteries, and is competing with the U.S. to attract producers.

The new plant will start production of lithium-ion batteries later this year .

It aims to have the capacity to fit around half a million cars a year.

The companies involved also said the project is expected to help create up to 2,000 jobs by the start of the next decade.