Sunday, 26 May 2019
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BMW, Varta apply for funds in battery cell push for e-vehicles

HAMBURG/BERLIN: BMW and Germany’s Varta have both applied for state funding aimed at supporting battery cell production for electric vehicles, they said, hitting a deadline set by the German government.

Germany has earmarked 1 billion euros ($1.13 billion) to support a consortium looking to produce electric car battery cells and plans to fund a research facility to develop next-generation solid-state batteries.

BMW is seeking funds for research and development in the field of battery cells, a spokesman for the group said on Friday, adding this does not mean the company aims to produce them itself.

He said that the funding application would not necessarily lead to the carmaker participating in a consortium.

Meantime, Varta said it was planning to hike production of battery cells to over 60 million cells per year, adding that it was cooperating with European partners to advance European battery cell production.

Companies could apply for the funds until Friday.

Germany, Europe’s top economy, wants to cut reliance of its carmakers on Asian battery suppliers and protect jobs at home that may be at risk from a global shift away from combustion engines.

Sceptics have noted that Germany’s efforts might be too little too late as the production of electric vehicle battery cells is dominated by companies from China, South Korea and Japan.

Overall, six consortia applied for state subsidies at Germany’s Economy Ministry, two people familiar with the matter said.

One of the people said that German battery maker BMZ Group had formed a consortium with Deutsche Post’s Streetscooter, German start-up e.Go Mobile AG and Ford’s German subsidiary Ford-Werke GmBH.

A spokesman for Deutsche Post only said that security of supply of battery cells for its Streetscooter was important. Volkswagen said nothing had been decided yet, adding it would likely comment on the matter on Monday.

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