What’s driving the drama behind Italy’s bid for a Stellantis battery plant

TURIN — Top executives from Stellantis’s battery cell production joint-venture held six meetings in the past two months with two Italian government ministers to discuss conditions to build a gigafactory in Italy as part of the automaker’s plan to support its expansion into electric mobility, Italian media reported.

Stellantis, which was formed in January by the merger of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and PSA Group, has a joint venture with energy giant Total, called Automotive Cells Co., to build two battery cell factories in Douvrin, France, and Kaiserslautern, Germany.

The two sites represent a total investment of 5 billion euros ($6 billion) and should allow production of batteries for 1 million cars per year on the basis of a cumulative 48 gigawatt-hours capacity.

Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares said on April 15 that Stellantis would decide by year end where to locate a third factory as part of an electrification push.

According to Il Fatto Quotidiano Italian daily, ACC CEO Yann Vincent and COO Jean Baptiste Pernot took part in a 90-minute meeting with Roberto Cingolani, Minister for Ecologic Transition on April 23.

The Ecologic Transition ministry will have access to about 40 percent of the 205-billion-euro ($251 billion) Piano Nazionale di Ripresa e Resilienza (PNRR, National Recovery and Resiliency Plan). Italy plans to spend almost 24 billion euros on the transition to cleaner energy and sustainable mobility, including investing 1 billion euros to enhance its battery, and solar and wind power industries.

The April 23 meeting was one of the six that ACC top executives held with Ecologic Transition ministry representatives, according to the public lobbyist registry taken by the ministry and seen by Il Fatto.

According to Il Fatto, ACC’s top executives and ministry representatives discussed how public incentives for a battery cell plant in Italy could comply with European Union regulating the amount of state aid that member governments can grant. The EU is also funding a 2.9-billion-euro European Battery Innovation plan to boost battery cell production in the bloc.

The talks also covered the possible location of a battery cell plant in Italy.

According to Il Fatto, the Minister Cingolani considered central and southern Italy, where Stellantis has three car plants in Cassino, Melfi and Pomigliano. Italian metalworker unions have been actively lobbying for northern Italy, where Stellantis has two plants, Mirafiori and Grugliasco.

In the Mirafiori complex there is also a battery hub that assembles battery packs for the Fiat New 500 small electric car built in Mirafiori and future Maserati electric models to be built in Mirafiori and Grugliasco.

A Stellantis spokesman confirmed to Automotive News Europe that the above meetings took place but declined to enter into specifics.

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