November 22, 2018 / 12:40 PM / 22 days ago

France seeks European battery deal as electric car growth accelerates

FILE PHOTO: Francois de Rugy, French Minister for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition, leaves following the weekly cabinet meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, October 17, 2018. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

PARIS (Reuters) - France called on Thursday for European battery manufacturers and carmakers to create a consortium able to meet the growing demand for electric vehicles and compete with dominant Asian producers.

“It (a consortium) must be at the European level because the French market alone will not be enough,” Energy Minister François de Rugy told Reuters following a cabinet meeting.

Europe, with the backing of the European Commission, is racing to set up a viable industrial battery sector as the bloc’s automakers mostly depend on Asian suppliers.

Asked after if there was a potential for deal between the carmakers and battery manufacturers such as French energy firm Total (TOTF.PA) through its battery subsidiary Saft, de Rugy said: “We are hoping to see some progress early next year.”

“We support the creation of a European battery sector. We are working with the industry, particular those in France, to build this sector,” de Rugy said.

Several projects have been announced in recent months to build battery plants in Europe and last week the German government said it had set aside around 1 billion euros ($1.14 billion) to support battery cell production.

Berlin aims to have 30 percent of such production coming from Germany and Europe by 2030.

Reporting by Jean-Baptiste Vey and Gilles Guillaume; Writing by Bate Felix; Editing by Alexander Smith

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