Châteauroux wants to attract electric battery gigafactories

Châteauroux wants to attract electric battery gigafactories
Châteauroux wants to attract electric battery gigafactories

A new activity zone welcoming businesses will soon see the light of day about ten kilometers from Châteauroux, in Etrechet. The Mayor (various right) of Châteauroux, Gil Avérous, hopes to see an electric battery factory set up among these new companies.

It is a growing sector and Gil Avérous, Mayor of Châteauroux and President of the urban community, understands this well. In the Ozans business area which should welcome its first companies in spring 2025, Gil Avérous would like to attract electric battery gigafactories. Understand here, giant battery factories for electric vehicles.

Because for the Mayor of Châteauroux, it is the future of the automobile industry that is at stake.”Our historical know-how in the Châteauroux area is automobiles. Today the sector is experiencing a revolution with the transition to all-electric while we were rather specialized in thermal with foundries, gasoline and diesel vehicle parts. There is therefore an issue of retraining personnel“, supports Gil Avérous. 2000 jobs are thus in danger in the agglomeration of Châteauroux. Gil Avérous therefore intends to rely on state aid, which provides great incentives for reindustrialization, to strengthen the electricity networks in order to be able to accommodate gigafactories of electric batteries In fact, the State will add to the 15 million euros already invested by the agglomeration of Châteauroux, 450 million euros for all of the five sites selected.There is a national envelope and those who need to draw from it to build networks, to carry out archaeological excavations or otherwise, will be able to benefit from it. But there will not be an equal distribution between the sites“, specifies Gil Avérous. A budget which should allow local communities to carry out road works in particular.”The challenge is to bring back a new high voltage line between the Éguzon dam and Marmagne which would pass near Ozans“, specifies Gil Avérous. The Mayor hopes that these companies will recruit staff from automobile subcontractors already present in the region, but who are at their worst. This is the case of Impériales Wheels (formerly Alvance Wheels), the last French rim manufacturer based in Châteauroux which has just been placed in receivership again, just two years after its takeover and a bailout of around 45 million euros.

To encourage the installation of new businesses, the government has launched “turnkey” sites, with five plots immediately operational to accommodate businesses. The 330 marketable hectares of Ozans are part of this. What do we understand by “turnkey”? Installation facilities for businesses. For example, all technical and environmental studies will have been carried out beforehand and administrative and regulatory procedures will be accelerated, making it possible to reduce the setup time of a company by half (around 18 months on average in normal times). And Châteauroux has a major advantage with this Ozans Zone, it is not one of the sites affected by the “zero net artificialization” law, a government objective which aims to reduce urban sprawl to preserve natural areas. “With this policy, new activity zones will no longer be created. So we are not taking any risks in upgrading an area like ours.“, underlines Gil Avérous.

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The Ozans Zone is one of the first five sites labeled “turnkey” by the government

© Châteauroux Métropole

Châteauroux will, however, have to deal with competition from the creation of a “Battery Valley” in the North of France. “We have already worked on files like Verkor which set up in Dunkirk. We finished in the last three competing sites. But there was a desire from the government to create a battery valley concentrated in Hauts-de-France“. But the Mayor of Châteauroux wants to be reassuring: “We will need many more battery production units. And there will have to be some everywhere on the national territory, whether in terms of availability of labor, but also in terms of subcontracting.“. For Gil Avérous, the creation of this Battery Valley is therefore not incompatible with the installation of a gigafactory in Châteauroux.

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Only 9% of French people would choose an electric car for their next vehicle

© France Télévisions

But is this really a sector of the future on which Châteauroux is banking? According to recent studies, purchasing intentions for electric vehicles are stagnating in Europe. Only 9% of French people surveyed would choose an electric car for their next vehicle. Among the obstacles to switching to electric, there is the purchase price, but also the duration of battery life. The Mayor of Châteauroux is however betting on the transition to electric, but also sees a second sector of activity which could emerge in the Ozans Zone. “We can also work on recycling batteries which will reach the end of their life and there will be more and more of them. There will therefore be a real market, which is less electricity intensive than battery production.“. With the installation of a gigafactory, but also logistics companies or the announced arrival of Soprema, specialized in waterproofing and aluminum roofing systems in the Ozans area, Gil Avérous hopes for the creation 3,000 to 5,000 new jobs for the region in the next five years.

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