First funding tranche for Verkor battery gigafactory near complete- co-founder

FILE PHOTO: 2022 Paris Auto Show

By Gilles Guillaume

PARIS (Reuters) - Verkor should complete the first tranche of fundraising for its future battery gigafactory in Dunkirk, France, in the coming weeks, co-founder and chief customer officer Philippe Chain told Reuters.

This first tranche will be a capital injection of around 800 million euros ($860 million), Chain added at the Munich car show, followed by a debt tranche of around 1.1 billion euros, as well as subsidies from the European Union that Verkor has already applied.

The Grenoble-based startup's gigafactory is one of four electric vehicle battery factories planned in northern France.

Verkor has already raised around 350 million euros, mainly for a new innovation centre, a pilot production line already in operation and a "battery school" to train future employees.

Construction of the gigafactory has begun and it will have an initial annual production capacity of 16 gigawatt hours (GWh) - including 12 for Renault, which owns more than 20% of Verkor. Production should start in mid-2025.

The plant's capacity could increase to 50 GWh in 2030 and it should create 1,200 direct jobs and more than 3,000 indirect jobs as early as 2025.

The three other gigafactories in northern France include one being built by Automotive Cells Company (ACC), which should start production by the end of the year with an initial capacity of 13 GWh, mostly for Stellantis and Mercedes, which are shareholders of ACC alongside TotalEnergies.

This will be followed by Envision AESC, a Japanese unit of China's Envision, which plans a capacity of 9 GWh in 2024 and 24 GWh by 2030, mainly for Renault's future R5 scheduled for next year.

Taiwan's ProLogium also plans a gigafactory in Dunkirk with a capacity of 30 GWh in 2030.

($1 = 0.9313 euros)

(Writing by Nick Carey; reporting by Gilles Guillaume; editing by David Evans)