With the Gigafactory project for the production of batteries for electric cars, announced on July 21 in Marrakech by Ryad Mezzour, Morocco is part of a inexorable transformation of the global automotive industry towards the electric.
The Minister of Industry and Commerce has repeatedly expressed his desire for Morocco to quickly join the restricted circle of countries that produce electric cars. In fact, he has already done so with production at the Stellantis factory in Kenitra; Citroën Ami and Opel Rocks-e models. Initiatives are multiplying to provide Morocco with the necessary conditions to win this bet.
The electric battery industry, an announced success?
“The next logical step in the development of our automotive industrial platform is to insert the battery, since our main market (the European Union) has made important announcements in terms of mobility transition, a complete transformation towards the electric ‘Horizon 2035’, Ryad said. Mezzour at the microphone of Médias24, on the sidelines of the US-Africa Business Summit.
He also announced that discussions were open with four or five operatorswhich could give rise, before the end of the year, to the installation of a Gigafactory of batteries in Morocco, which will serve the factories of the Kingdom and those of neighboring countries.
On June 2, on the occasion of the signing of an agreement between the group Renault and Managem, Ryad Mezzour already argued that a process was underway to develop the electric battery segment.
Under this agreement, the Moroccan mining group will supply the French manufacturer cobalt to be used for the production of electric batteries. Although it had not been clearly announced, everything indicated that this battery factory would be located in Moroccosince Mohamed Bachiri, director of Renault Morocco, declared on this occasion that for the first time the level of integration would include the raw material extracted from Moroccan soil.
Indeed, Morocco is a producer of cobalt, nickel and phosphate, minerals involved in the manufacture of the electric battery. However, for lithium it will have to source from abroad.
And this, without taking into account the speculations about the potential of Mount Tropic or the probable discoveries of lithium in the south of Morocco. On the other hand, the Kingdom has very good relations with the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Chile, holders of almost 50% of the world’s reserves, respectively, of cobalt and lithium.
Given that Morocco has an already well-established automotive industry and large renewable energy production stations (needing new generation batteries for storage), the electric battery industry already has a significant local market. If we add the capacities of raw material, Morocco has every chance to break into this industry of the future.
A breakthrough in the strategic segment of semiconductors
In addition to batteries, another strategic segment in the automotive industry is related to electronic chips or semiconductors. With advances in security systems, autonomous driving, and the Internet of Things (IOT), cars have become real computers on wheels.
A Tesla can store up to 3,000 chips against a hundred for a classic car. With the electrification and automation of automobiles, the sector’s demand for semiconductors will triple by 2028.
After the sudden and significant recovery of the world economy after the Covid crisis, the automotive sector has been the most affected by the shortage of semiconductors; the existing supply is mainly sold in the electronics market, particularly smartphones, which offer higher margins.
However, in this complicated context, Morocco was able to take a big step forward in this high-tech industry thanks to one of the main players in the market, ST Microelectronics. The Franco-Italian multinational factory in Bouskoura has been prepared, with an investment of 250 million dollars, in particular to accommodate new technologies that allow it to manufacture latest generation chips.
The factory, which supplies the American giant Tesla, has hired some 700 people since 2021. It currently employs about 3,300 people and foresees great developments, according to its general director, Fabrice Gómez.
“The future of this factory lies in the growth of electric cars, with many jobs and colossal investments in the coming years,” he declared on the occasion of the inauguration of the new production line. “Bouskoura is now one of the group’s main sites for electric cars, to serve European customers in the very near future. »
Morocco can pride itself on being among the few countries that host the manufacture of semiconductors for the electric carin a context of global scarcity that threatens the entire sector.
The world on a forced march towards electricity
Today, the famous American electric car manufacturer Tesla, which has revolutionized the market, represents the highest market valuation, by far, among car manufacturers. Although the speculative effect is not negligible, it nevertheless shows that the financial markets believe that the future of the sector lies in electricity.
The two manufacturers present in Morocco, namely the Renault-Nissan and Stellantis groups, also entered the electric age quite early. Morocco offers them exceptional competitiveness. Today, the two best-selling models in Europe, the Dacia Sandero and the Peugeot 208, both come from Moroccan factories.
If Morocco wants to claim such a high rate of integration in the electric car, it will necessarily have to manufacture the batteries; because these can represent at least 30% of the value of an electric vehicleeven if its price is constantly falling thanks to the evolution of technology.
According to official figures, Europe accounts for almost 80% of Moroccan car exports. However, on June 8, the Parliament of the European Union approved a text that prohibits the sale of new thermal cars in Europe, from 2035. Interim automotive emission reduction targets are set at -15% by 2025 and -55% by 2030.
If Morocco wants to keep its market share at the level of its main market, it must carry out its transformation. Especially since most European countries offer incentives in the form of subsidies and rebates for the purchase of electric cars. In France, champion in this field, they reach the sum of €11,000.
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