The expected demand for electric vehicles in the coming years means that major car manufacturers are technically and financially supporting many of the major existing gigafactory projects both in Europe and the rest of the world.

Not surprisingly, the automotive sector is expected to be the major industry from which the demand for batteries will mainly come in the coming years.

As we saw in a previous article where we analyzed the major players behind the state-of-the-art technologies of gigafactories, automotive OEMs have also allied themselves in this bet, providing, mainly, the economic resources that help the development of these cell and battery-pack manufacturing projects. The objective is twofold:

On the one hand, to ensure its demand in the coming years, thus trying to reduce its dependence on third parties. On the other hand, to guarantee the technological know-how associated with the battery sector, a key industry in the coming years that will go beyond the electric vehicle. For all these reasons, almost all the major players are currently taking part in a race to have the maximum possible participation in these developments, in order to be active players in this revolution that is expected in the coming years in the energy sector.

Volkswagen, a key player on the European map

Among all the major manufacturers, in recent months one of the companies that has shown the greatest ambition in this regard is Volkswagen, particularly in relation to the European market.

Last March, the German company announced its intention to have at least six production plants throughout Europe by 2030, with a total capacity of 240 GWh. With this goal in mind, the company has already started to build its way.

On the one hand, Volkswagen is one of the major promoters and investors in Northvolt, one of the references in the battery production sector in Europe. Together, they are working on the launch of projects such as the ones they are jointly setting up in Sweden, as well as on the technological development of their solutions.

On the other hand, Volkswagen is also one of the driving forces behind another of the sector´s incipient technological players: QuantumScape. Together with this company (whose bet is based on solid-state batteries), it has recently announced the establishment of the first solid electrolyte battery factory in Europe.

In addition, the Teutonic company is also working on the development of two other projects. One, at a more advanced stage, consists of a plant in the town of Salzgitter (with an innovative cell research center), which is expected to be in production in 2025. The second, more incipient, involves setting up a battery factory in Spain, with the aim of supplying this technology to their plants in the country, with a special focus on the Seat brand.

In both scenarios (as well as in the rest of the projects proposed by the brand until the target capacity is reached), it remains to be seen who could be its technological partner (as in the cases of Northvolt or Quantumscape). However, it is not ruled out that they will be led by the company itself, which has already announced that it is studying the possibility of manufacturing its own batteries to control "the core" of this technology.

Outside Europe, another of Volkswagen´s big bets is on the Chinese company Gotion, in which it has a stake of around 25%. In fact, it is the spearhead with which the German company seeks to conquer other markets such as Asia. There is even rumors that it could use it as leverage to develop some of the aforementioned projects in Europe.

Great partnerships from most manufacturers

Alongside Volkswagen, one of the other companies that has made major announcements in recent months in this regard has been the Renault-Nissan alliance group. As part of their collaboration, the two companies have announced their participation in the developments taking place in two major initiatives currently underway in France.

On the one hand, Envision AESC is planning a plant in the north of the country for 2024 with an initial capacity of 9 GWh. On the other, the firm led by Luca de Meo has reached an agreement with the startup Verkor (which is leading the development of a gigafactory project in France as well) in order to co-develop and manufacture high-performance batteries in the future.

Another major group that has confirmed its involvement in gigafactory projects in recent months has been Daimler.

The German multinational recently confirmed its participation in the ACC project by becoming a shareholder. In addition, it is expected that, as in this project, it may launch new initiatives in collaboration with TotalEnergies and Stellantis (who, also in recent weeks, has announced its intention to launch a third gigafactory associated with its brand in Termoli, Italy).

To all this, we must add the fact that Daimler works or has worked with some of the main cell manufacturers that are currently leading projects in different parts of the world (such as CATL or Farasis; even participating in the shareholding of the second one as a minority shareholder), so it is not discarded its entry also in some of these initiatives. All this is part of the company´s plan to have 8 gigafactories by 2030: 4 in Europe, 3 in Asia and 1 in the United States.

In the United States, the company that is gaining the most prominence in this regard is Ford. Together with SK Innovation, the Detroit-based group has announced, in recent days, an investment of more than 9,750 million euros to develop three gigafactories in the country that will supply the Ford and Lincoln brands.

In this way, the US company seeks to compete with its neighbor GM, which has already been working for some months with LG Chem in the development of its own gigafactories (specifically two, in Ohio in 2022 and in Tennessee in 2023, with a capacity of around 30 - 35 GWh each).

With these projects, some of the major "traditional" vehicle manufacturers have begun to plague both the European and North American map with gigafactories (as well as other regions, such as Hyundai and LG Chem with the manufacture of a 10 GWh plant in Malaysia). However, new "players" in the industry are also playing a leading role in this race.

Among all of them, the most famous and mediatic case is probably Tesla. The brand led by Elon Musk is, in fact, the first company to popularize the term "gigafactory". Its plant in Nevada (USA) is the first of many that the company is expected to develop in the coming years (starting, in the short term, with those in Berlin and Texas).

Manufacturers in the pipeline or about to join 

As we can see, the bet on gigafactories is becoming popular among the major automotive brands. However, there are still some market giants that are reluctant to enter this new business.

The most prominent case is undoubtedly BMW. The Munich-based company is betting heavily on participating in the development of electric vehicles, with supply agreements with brands such as Northvolt and CATL, as well as investing in new startups such as Solid Power. However, it has not yet decided to participate in the development of large gigafactory projects, claiming that the battery industry is still at too early a stage to know which technology will be the winner.

Another company that has not yet decided to take the plunge is Toyota, although in this case it seems that this will change soon. The Japanese manufacturer - one of the companies leading the race for solid-state batteries and which has been working for the longest time on the technological development of electric and hybrid vehicles - does not yet have any projects underway linked to the development of gigafactories. For the time being, Toyota only has a Joint Venture with Panasonic associated with the development of prismatic cells in Japan, called Prime Planet Energy. However, last September it announced its intention to change this, with investment plans of up to 13 billion dollars to develop this type of project until 2030.

To finish the review of the major manufacturers, Honda is another of the companies that remains to join this "fever" of the gigafactories. Although it is true that it has ambitious electrification plans (involving large contracts with major battery suppliers), the Japanese company does not have any "flaghship" battery projects. However, as was the case with its neighbor Toyota, it is likely that this situation could change at any time. Especially considering its participation (although a minority one) in the shareholding of industry giants such as CATL.


Thus, it seems clear that even the laggards are going to pick up speed in the coming years. As we have already mentioned, a large part of the future of these companies depends on guaranteeing their demand for batteries.

By way of summary, below is a visual summary of the alliances that the major automotive companies are making with a view to developing some of the main gigafactories projects around the world:


Nuria Gisbert, Director General of CIC energiGUNE; Member of the Expert Committee of the Basque Parliament on the Basque Energy Agreement, member of the scientific advisory committee of the Vitoria-Gasteiz Green Deal and member of the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Basque Council for Science, Technology and Innovation of the Basque Country.


In collaboration with:

Iñigo Careaga: BCARE Business Analyst

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