Round up. In Morocco, the automotive industry is gearing up for the switch to electric

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 driving.

The Minister of Industry and Trade has repeatedly expressed the desire to see Morocco quickly integrate the restricted circle of electric car-producing countries. In fact, he has already done so with production at the Stellantis factory in Kenitra; Citroën Ami and Opel Rocks-e models. Initiatives to provide Morocco with the necessary conditions to win this bet are multiplying.

The electric battery industry, an announced success?

“The next logical step in the development of our automotive industrial platform is to insert the battery, as our main market (the European Union) has made important announcements in terms of mobility transition, a complete transformation to the 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 opened 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 in the Kingdom and neighboring countries.

On 2 June, on the occasion of an agreement signed between the Renault and Managem, Ryad Mezzour already defended that a process was underway to develop the electric battery segment.

Under this agreement, the Moroccan mining group will supply the French manufacturer cobalt which will be used for the production of electric batteries. Although not clearly announced, everything indicated that this battery factory would be based in Moroccoas Mohamed Bachiri, director of Renault Morocco, declared on this occasion that, for the first time, the level of integration would include raw material extracted from Moroccan soil.

Indeed, Morocco is a producer of cobalt and phosphate, minerals that go to the manufacture of the electric battery. However, for lithium, he will have to get supplies from abroad.

And that’s without considering speculation surrounding Mount Tropic’s potential or likely lithium discoveries in southern Morocco. On the other hand, the Kingdom maintains very good relations with the Democratic Republic of Congo and Chile, which hold around 50% of the world’s reserves of cobalt and lithium, respectively.

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 capabilities, Morocco has every chance to enter this industry of the future.

A breakthrough in the strategic semiconductor segment

In addition to batteries, another strategic segment in the automotive industry is electronic chips or semiconductors. With advances in safety systems, autonomous driving and the Internet of Things (IOT), cars have become real computers on wheels.

ONE Tesla can store up to 3,000 chips against one hundred for a classic car. With the electrification and automation of cars, industry demand for semiconductors will triple by 2028.

After the sudden and significant recovery of the world economy after the Covid crisis, the automotive sector was the most affected by the shortage of semiconductors; the existing offering is mainly sold in the electronics market, mainly smartphones, which offer higher margins.

In this complicated context, Morocco managed, however, to make a great advance in this high-tech industry thanks to one of the main players in the market, ST Microelectronics. The plant of the French-Italian multinational in Bouskoura prepared, investing 250 million dollars, namely to accommodate new technologies that allow it to manufacture state-of-the-art chips.

The factory, which supplies US giant Tesla, has recruited about 700 people since 2021. It currently employs about 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 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 be proud to be among the few countries to house 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 revolutionized the market, represents the highest market valuation – by far – among automakers. If the speculative 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 age very early. Morocco offers them exceptional competitiveness. Today, the two best-selling models in Europe, the Dacia Sandero and the Peugeot 208, 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 they can represent at least 30% of the value of an electric vehicleeven though its price is constantly dropping thanks to the evolution of technology.

According to official data, Europe accounts for almost 80% of Moroccan car exports. However, on 8 June, the European Union Parliament adopted a text that bans 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 preserve its market share at the level of its main market, it must transform it. Especially since most European countries offer incentives in the form of subsidies and bonuses for the purchase of electric cars. In France, champion in this area, these amount to €11,000.

Rachid Yazami: here are the conditions for the success of the lithium battery production project in Morocco

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