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 electric.
The Minister of Industry and Trade has repeatedly expressed his desire to see Morocco quickly integrate the restricted circle of countries producing electric cars. In fact, it 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 electric ‘Horizon 2035,’ said Ryad Mezzour at the microphone of Médias24, on the sidelines of the US-Africa Business Summit.
He also announced that discussions were open with four to five operatorswhich could lead, 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 an agreement signed 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 with cobalt which will be used for the production of electric batteries. Although it had not been clearly announced, everything indicated that this battery factory would be housed 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.
In effect, Morocco is a producer of cobalt, nickel and phosphate, minerals that go into the manufacture of the electric battery. However, for lithium, he will have to obtain supplies from abroad.
And this, without considering the speculations around the potential of Mount Tropic or probable discoveries of lithium in southern Morocco. On the other hand, the Kingdom has very good relations with the Democratic Republic of Congo and Chile, holders of nearly 50% of the world’s reserves, respectively of cobalt and lithium.
As Morocco has an already well-established automotive industry and large renewable energy production stations (which need new generation batteries for storage), the electric battery industry already has a significant local market. If we add raw material capacities, Morocco has every chance of breaking into this industry of the future.
A breakthrough in the strategic segment of semiconductors
Apart from batteries, another strategic segment in the automotive industry relates to electronic chips or semiconductors. With advances in safety systems, autonomous driving and the Internet of Things (IOT), cars have become real computers on wheels.
A Tesla can hold up to 3,000 chips against a hundred for a classic car. With the electrification and automation of cars, the sector’s demand for semiconductors will triple by 2028.
After the sudden and significant recovery of the world economy following the Covid crisis, the automotive sector has been the most affected by the shortage of semiconductors; the existing offer being sold primarily on the electronic products market, smartphones in particular, which offer higher margins.
In this complicated context, Morocco was however able to make a major breakthrough in this high-tech industry thanks to one of the main players in the market, ST Microelectronics. The factory of the Franco-Italian multinational in Bouskoura has prepared, by investing 250 million dollars, in particular to accommodate new technologies allowing it to manufacture latest generation chips.
The factory, which supplies the American giant Tesla, has recruited some 700 people since 2021. It currently employs nearly 3,300 people and plans major developments, according to its general manager Fabrice Gomez.
“The future of this factory lies in the growth of electric cars, with many jobs and colossal investments in the years to come”, he declared on the occasion of the inauguration of the new production line. “Bouskoura is now one of the group’s major sites for electric cars, to serve European customers in the very near future. »
Morocco can pride itself on being among the few countries to house the manufacture of semiconductors for the electric carin a context of global shortage that threatens the entire sector.
The world on a forced march towards electric
Today, the famous American manufacturer of electric cars Tesla, which has revolutionized the market, represents the largest market valuation – by far – among automakers. If the speculation effect is not negligible, it nevertheless demonstrates 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 era 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 integration rate 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 their price is constantly falling thanks to the evolution of technology.
According to official figures, Europe represents nearly 80% of Moroccan car exports. However, on 8 June last, the Parliament of the European Union adopted a text which bans the sale of new thermal cars in Europe, from 2035. Intermediate automotive emission reduction targets are set at -15% by 2025 and -55% by 2030.
If Morocco wants to preserve its market share at the level of its main market, it must operate its transformation. Especially since most European countries offer incentives in the form of subsidies and bonuses for the purchase of electric cars. In France, the champion in this field, these reach the sum of €11,000.
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