Caught between a rock and a glass place?

January 11, 2024

The French EV market grew notably in November (2023), as new data shows that 45,281 new EVs were registered. This figure represents 39% growth YoY and 30% of the overall market, bear in mind this includes BEVs and plug-in hybrids. Interestingly of the overall 45,281 figure, BEV registrations rose to 30,769, which represents a 52% YoY growth and also amounts to 20% of the overall new-car market. For the year (Jan-Nov), the French BEV market strongly grew, with 64% of new EV registrations being BEVs, and the remaining being PHEV registrations. In terms of EV sales, Tesla’s Model 3 and Y dominated the market, as they were the 1st and 2nd top-selling EV models in the French market in 2023.

The Chinese government has reacted to the EU’s anti-subsidy probe, by launching a trade probe into luxury liquor (brandy) producers from Europe. This probe was opened after a domestic liquor association filed an application claiming the EU were price-dumping French cognac. This is an interesting move, as targeting France is not surprising, as the country strongly supports the EU anti-subsidy probe. This has resulted in most brandy stock prices tumbling down; however, the numbers do not add up. China imported $1.57bn worth of spirits from distilled grape wine in 2023, while exporting c$12.7bn worth of EVs to the EU in the same period. China used a similar tactic with Australia when they implemented anti-dumping tariffs on Australian wines, this had a material result on that industry however this was due to China being a major market for them. When China achieved their policy goal with Australia, it started to review the curbs. It will be interesting to see how this plays out, it would not be surprising if China opens more probes on other European countries in the coming weeks/months.

Synetiq, a British-based integrated salvage & vehicle recycling company, has announced it is collaborating with Allye Energy over EV batteries. This collaboration will focus on repurposing EV battery packs for MAX Battery Energy Storage Systems. This will be done by leveraging Allye’s (proprietary) diagnostic technology to gauge and repurpose as many usable battery packs as possible.

Northvolt, a Swedish lithium-ion battery manufacturer, has received €902m worth of German state aid, to help build an EV battery production plant in Heide. This is a very significant event, as Northvolt was considering picking the USA to build its plant due to the substantial subsidies it could unlock through the Inflation Reduction Act, which would have been a big blow to the EU EV supply chain. This investment by Germany (& the EU) will help Europe materially with its green transition and net-zero goals. We believe the EU will be very proactive this year in investing in its EV supply chain(s), so it can be less dependent on Asia.

Microsoft (Azure Quantum) and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) are working together to use AI and a supercomputer to find a new substance, to replace lithium, which could power EV batteries. There is a scarce amount of lithium which makes it (relatively) expensive and the mining of it is environmentally harmful. Amazingly, AI was able to narrow down 32m potential inorganic materials to 18 promising candidates, in less than a week. To put this into context, a traditional research lab would have taken over 20 years to complete this same exercise. N2116, one of the new AI-derived materials, has been able to power a lightbulb. The teams believe in another 9 months they can develop a working battery prototype.

BT has announced it is hoping to repurpose, up to 60,000, soon-to-be-decommissioned green street cabinets into EV charging points. These cabinets were previously used for broadband and phone cabling however will become defunct due to the full fibre broadband rollout. The first conversion is pencilled in to be installed around the end of this month, in East Lothian (Scotland) for a pilot study. BT hopes to retrofit the cabinets with a device that enables renewable energy to be shared to a charge point alongside the existing broadband service with no need to create a new connection because they are already connected to a power source.

GDI, a New York-based silicon anode startup, has announced it will be receiving a €20m loan from the European Investment Bank (EIB). This capital will be deployed to scale EV battery production at a factory in Germany. EIB has also taken an equity stake in GDI, via the InvestEU programme, which aims to boost investment, innovation, and job creation, via new technologies, in Europe (over 2021-2027). GDI follows in the footsteps of Sila, in being the latest American anode startup, that has gained traction and investment. It appears that President Biden’s strategy to be less reliant on the Chinese supply chain is beginning to show. Bear in mind China refines more than 90% of the world’s graphite and (relatively) recently introduced export curbs. Thus, this has acted as a tailwind to look for alternative sources and although this is a great start, it is still only the beginning. GDI’s anodes, compared to graphite anodes, are reported to provide 30% more energy density which means (potentially) EV batteries have better/greater range whilst the charging time is only 15 minutes.

Gatwick Airport has announced it has opened a brand new Gridserve Electric Forecourt facility, which is an EV charging station. This site is equipped with 30 high-power and low-power EV chargers available via contactless payment. The facility is targeted at passengers, residents, commuters and business fleets. The airport has been very proactive in adopting and implementing renewable projects, as it recently helped fund new hydrogen buses on the local Metrobus network. This stems from the airport's goal to have 60% of journeys to and from the airport to be zero or ultra-low emissions, by 2030.

The Hungarian government has announced it will be investing c$2bn in an infrastructure development project in Debrecen, to help make it a prominent European battery production hub. This stems from the recent investments, totalling c$13.6bn, made by for example CATL and BMW who have opened EV (battery) plants, or will very soon, in that region. This project will upgrade the region’s transportation, roads and potable and waste-water management.


Ampersand, a Rwandan-based e-bike startup, has announced it has raised $19.5m in a new funding round. This round was led by Ecosystem Integrity Fund, with Alphamundi VC, Societe Petrolieres du Rwanda, TotalEnergies, EIF and Beyond Capital Ventures, also participating. $7.5m of the amount raised is a debt facility that will be managed by Cygnum Capital. The capital raised will be used to help ramp up electric motorcycle battery production and scale up R&D on battery technology.