11th Jan 2023

The Kaiserslautern ACC battery cell plant is now legally and technically separate from the Opel site

Drone photo of ACC's Kaiserslautern future battery cell production site

Work is in progress on the former part of the Opel site. As this drone photo shows, the dismantling of an old hall creates space for the new battery cell production. Photo: ACC

In addition to the Pfaff site, the construction of the battery cell factory is probably one of the most extensive projects in Kaiserslautern. Preparations for the start of construction are underway on the former part of the Opel site. In the first step, supply lines had to be designed and relaid.

It has been clear for almost two years that one of Europe's largest factories for battery cells and modules to be installed in electric cars is being built in western Kaiserslautern. In the first few months of 2020, prominent politicians such as the then Federal Minister for Economic Affairs Peter Altmaier and the Prime Minister of Rhineland-Palatinate Malu Dreyer were in each other's hands - no wonder, since there is massive support from taxpayers' money in the billion-euro project. Declared goal: to make Europe independent of Asia in e-mobility.
The planning phase is now followed by implementation: As ACC reports, the company's first German gigafactory has a good starting point for further work with the start of dismantling work on the former Opel factory buildings on December 22nd and the completion of the "site separation". achieved this year.

A new factory on the site of an old hall

The new factory will be built on the site of the Opel site, which currently produces components for Stellantis Group vehicles. “A brownfield approach that is essential to ACC's sustainability strategy. The new production halls will be built on the site of old halls, so that no new space will be required,” explains ACC Germany boss Peter Winternheimer. This contributes significantly to environmental protection.

 It takes a lot of effort to turn one factory site into two independent locations. For example, all supply lines must be cut and reorganized. Photo: ACC

ACC Kaiserslautern factory split

"Site separation" is the technical separation between the existing production halls on the previous Opel site - where components for various brands of the Stellantis Group will continue to be produced - and the "new" part of the site, which will be used from the second quarter of 2023 the first of the three planned production blocks of the Gigafactory will be built.

All connections were cut and relocated

This technical separation of the Stellantis halls from the ACC halls was very complex and required special expertise. All previous connections – electric cables to every corner, water and waste water pipes, heating pipes, the entire media supply – to the former halls had to be cut, as most of the connections ran underground or at a dizzy height above the future construction site. At the same time, cables and pipes were laid, new connections made to ensure smooth, uninterrupted operations at the Stellantis site at all times.
In parallel with the completion of the technical preparations, the legal transfer of the future ACC site from Stellantis to ACC was also completed.
The plant is therefore right on schedule, the first planning phase for the construction of the new factory in Kaiserslautern has been completed, according to the company.
The production of battery cells and modules is scheduled to start at the end of 2025, when the first block of the gigafactory has been built. After completion of the three production blocks at the end of 2030, the Kaiserslautern Gigafactory will reach its full capacity, produce cells and modules for up to 600,000 electric vehicles per year and employ around 2,000 people, reports ACC.

A European flagship project

ACC (Automotive Cells Company) was founded in 2020 as a joint venture for the development and production of battery cells and modules for electric vehicles by the Stellantis and TotalEnergies groups - together with their subsidiary Saft. In 2022, Mercedes-Benz joined as a third partner. ACC operates a research and development center in France near Bordeaux, as well as a state-of-the-art pilot and test facility in Nersac near Angoulême. A first production site, a so-called gigafactory, is currently being built in Billy-Berclau Douvrin, in northern France. In addition, the Applied Engineering Center is in preparation and the lithium-ion gigafactory in Kaiserslautern is scheduled to start work with the first production block in 2025. The third of the three planned gigafactories is expected to be built in the Italian city of Termoli.According to ACC, it will invest a total of around seven billion euros in the development and production of "the latest battery technology for future mobility" - a technology that is strongly supported by France, Germany and the European Union.

A good two billion euros are being invested in Kaiserslautern, of which the federal and state governments are contributing around a quarter – almost 450 million euros. When the factory starts in 2025, 700 people are to be employed in Kaiserslautern, and by 2030 it will eventually be 2,000 – most of them skilled workers.