At a press conference on Wednesday, Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier informed, among other things, about Tesla’s plans in Germany. He confirmed that the Federal Government is very keen that Tesla is actually building its planned Gigafactory in Brandenburg (Giga Berlin). At the same time, the minister indicated that Tesla would also like to produce its own battery cells in Germany. If this also includes a research and development aspect, the company has chances of participating in the next funding program for it.
He had personally spoken to Tesla CEO Elon Musk about the question of battery cell production in Germany, the minister explained, and he had agreed to take the step into cell production “in perspective” with the Gigafactory in Grünheide. It is almost an open secret that Tesla wants to manufacture cells for his battery packs sooner or later, but the concrete plans for it are still unclear. Job advertisements, hints and documents for approval for the German Gigafactory, however, show that Germany should play a role in this.
As the Federal Minister of Economics further explained, there was a workshop in January with Tesla and representatives of his ministry to clarify the possible eligibility of battery plans in Germany; two to three other companies were also involved. According to Altmaier, the state always made it clear that, in principle, foreign companies can also benefit from German funding. However, certain conditions would have to be met. So it is not enough to just build battery packs, it also has to be “research and development”.
According to Altmaier, this funding is about the IPCEI 2 program, i.e. the second round in the efforts of several EU member states to establish competencies in battery cell production in Europe for the future field of electric cars. A first IPCEI project for battery research and production with a total volume of 3.2 billion euros was approved by the EU in December 2019. This includes PSA and Opel, which want to produce cells in Germany from 2024, as Altmaier said.
The minister did not want to say directly who had previously applied for IPCEI 2 – from the context it nevertheless became clear that Tesla is among them. The decision on the next funding round is expected in the middle of the year, then the Ministry will also name the participants, according to Altmaier. Overall, however, a lot more and in some cases smaller companies are to be expected in the program than in the first round, according to the minister, a large number of them from Germany – probably around 50 for both battery projects. Within a year, one would be in in this regard, “got further than in many, many years before”.