July 26, 2021

“There will be no more Airbus batteries than trains, satellites or bicycles”

IYou should always be wary when you hear the word Airbus to designate anything other than an aircraft manufacturer. The term appeals to politicians because it symbolizes both the power of the organizing state, the European dimension of a project and its hegemonic character. But, apart from restructuring the European aviation industry, it never worked.

There will be no more Airbus from the train than from the boat, satellites or bicycles. In a capitalist system, including in China, innovation is stimulated by competition, not by supervision. The latest example, the “Airbus batteries”, provides further proof.

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As soon as the first stone was laid for a project baptized a little quickly thus, in January 2020, the French public authorities, who dreamed of placing French and German car manufacturers under one roof, understood that things would not turn out like that. . The ACC project, which they carried at arm’s length, will ultimately bring together only two French companies, Stellantis and Total, which is not really the definition of a large-scale pan-European project. And it’s better that way.

Union funding

Instead of a single head, dozens are currently emerging. There are nearly forty projects in Europe, for a total investment of nearly 40 billion euros. According to Maros Sefcovic, vice-president of the European Commission in charge of energy between 2014 and 2019, in just two years, Europe has become the world leader in terms of investment in batteries.

Intelligently, Europe has financed a good part of the initiatives, some of which are already far more advanced than that of the French. This is the case with Northvolt. Founded in 2015, this Swedish company has already managed to raise more than 5 billion euros in loans and capital, and to garner nearly 23 billion euros in orders. It has won over Volkswagen, which has become its first shareholder, but also BMW and Volvo, with whom it has just signed for the creation of a joint venture.

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In France itself, the Airbus battery is a new competitor, with the company Verkor, which dreams of becoming the Northvolt of southern Europe. Founded, like the Swedish, by a former Tesla, it is supported in particular by Schneider Electric and discusses with Renault, which has never liked this story of sacred union with its French competitor. The Airbus is only popular at the Paris Air Show.