Bratislava, February 5th, 2020 – Following the example of developed countries, Slovakia has a unique chance to participate in its own development of car batteries and become a leader in their production. The rise of the electromobility era is inevitable.
From a strategic and security aspect, it is necessary for the European Union to possess the final decision sovereignty in the area of electromobility, development and production of car batteries.
“InoBat Auto’s investment has the potential to be a significant contribution to research in Slovakia. The establishment of the R&D centre will also be crucial for the automakers operating in Slovakia and maintaining of their employment,” explains Marian Boček, Chairman of the Board of InoBat.
€ 100 million for research
Today’s decision of the Government of the Slovak Republic to support the production of battery systems and the granting of subsidies is entirely in accordance with the state aid rules and the European Commission regulation. In particular, investments in new technologies and development are rational support for the automotive industry. Support from public resources could already be seen in Germany or France. In both countries, the funding is around a billion €.
Slovak economy has long been strongly interconnected with the automotive industry. “To prevent Slovakia from losing its competitive advantage, supporting such an investment and a unique project in the field of car batteries development is strategically correct,” said M. Boček from InoBat Auto.
The subsidy of 5 million € is the result of negotiations with the Government of the Slovak Republic. “The funds will be used to finance expert capacities and technology transfer to launch an R&D centre,” says M. Boček. The goal in the first phase is to invest 100 million € to build a research and development centre, a so-called R&D centre. Simultaneously, the aim is to create a pilot production line in western Slovakia.
The second phase will focus on the large-scale production of battery cells in a production volume of 10 GWh per year. The investment volume is estimated at a billion €. The production will be located in Slovakia again, preferably in a region with a high unemployment rate, such as eastern Slovakia.
Project financing will be secured by a combination of resources: debt financing and private resources. In debt financing, InoBat Auto already communicates very intensively with the banking sector and sovereign investment funds. Negotiations were launched last summer with the European Investment Bank (EIB), which already funded a project of similar type in Sweden.
Strong cooperation with academics
“InoBat Auto brings unique know-how to Slovakia. It will directly involve the Slovak academic community in research and development,” emphasized M. Boček. There will be a significant space for the use of the research and development capacities of our universities and the entire academic sector.
The cooperation with the Slovak Battery Alliance would open opportunities for STU Bratislava, TUKE Kosice, UPJŠ Kosice or University of Žilina. Other organizations are currently in the process of joining the alliance. Specific opportunities include collaboration with world-class scientific community capacities from the US, the building of the academic infrastructure; direct participation in science and research activities; and access to research parks of the private partner.
According to this scenario, the results would be far-reaching. The growth of a new generation of experienced Slovak researchers with experience, the return of scientists from abroad, the presence of foreign experts in the country and the expansion of the country’s intellectual property are expected.
Tailor-made car batteries
The European Commission estimates that in order to meet the needs of the producers, an estimated 20 to 30 so-called ‘gigafactories’ will have to be built in the EU. It is already known that the demand of European automakers in 2023 will exceed by five times the production capacity of all EU producers, including those currently under construction (respectively, the plan is to build them). At the same time, over 80% of such investments in the EU are of the Asian origin.
Today, manufacturers offer battery cells through the so-called “catalogue sales.” Car manufacturers have to adapt the car design to the offer of batteries on the market and not vice versa. Ideally, the design of the batteries should be tailored to the manufacturer’s needs. To find a manufacturer with a “made-to-measure” product is practically impossible today.
The goal of InoBat Auto is to change the unsatisfactory situation. This aim is to be achieved by the transfer of modern technology and cooperation with the renowned company Wildcat Discovery Technologies. It has more than 150 registered exclusive patents and already brings solutions for car manufacturers such as BMW, Daimler and other premium brands.
Slovakia provides many years of experience in the quality of industrial production and a strong focus on the automotive industry. Together with the Central European region, it creates the best conditions for the development of battery cell production.
Company InoBat Auto, j.s.a. has been formed by the merger of the renowed American company Wildcat Discovery Technologies Inc. (WDT) with InoBat j.s.a. (InoBat).