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How many proposed battery manufacturing plants are operating, under construction or in late planning stages in the US and Europe?  Christoph Lienemann, Managing Director of PEM Motion North America, provided the answer with his first slide at our Perspectives podcast on March 24:  36 in Europe and 20 in North America.  Those are much larger numbers than most people realize.  Is it a sign of a coming overcapacity situation?  Christoph said it depends on how fast the sales in EVs grow.  He can foresee cases where in fact there are not enough battery manufacturing plants to meet demand. Right now there have been 3.2 million EVs sold in Europe compared to 2 million in the US.  The potential exists for the US to be the larger market over time and outpace Europe.  If that happened, overcapacity may not be the problem.  

Why is PEM here in Sacramento?  From its base in Aachen, Germany, PEM has established itself as a creative leader in Europe in engineering of unique mobility products and their production expanding to industrial scale, with an impressive slate of partners.  PEM sees similar opportunities in North America and has chosen Sacramento as its future base to locate its team to provide manufacturing engineering and setting up “ramp-up” factory pilots to work out the details on scaling mobility products to industrial levels. It intends as it has in Europe to focus on niche products in motor sports, personal mobility products like scooters, and delivery vehicles.  It has already signed a partnership agreement with CityFreighter in Irvine, CA, to advance its line of electric delivery vans based on a low skateboard-like chassis.  It also offers similar expertise in setting up industrial scale manufacturing plants for innovative battery systems. 

PEM sees Sacramento as well-situated between growing production centers in the Bay Area, LA and Arizona in area where they can attract talent from our local universities and take advantage of some low-cost space.  In July 2021, PEM entered into a partnership with the California Mobility Center (CMC) supported by Sac State and SMUD to take the first steps of its larger plan.  Mark Doerfer has moved from Germany to here to serve as the COO of PEM Motion USA and the Director of Technology for the CMC.  

According to its website, ”the California Mobility Center (CMC) orchestrates commercially meaningful interactions between future mobility early-stage companies and industry-leading members.”  It has already signed up an impressive list of partners and supporters to create these kinds of meaningful collaborations. 

We recently attended the first Open House showcase of the CMC and saw the products with which they were already involved.  You can find out more about that in our blog here. 

To learn more about PEM Motion and its California Initiative, Christoph’s entire presentation and the Q&A session which followed is below.

Thomas Hall

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Gary Simon is the Chair of CleanStart's Board. A seasoned energy executive and entrepreneur with 45 years of experience in business, government, and non-profits.

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