Truck battery JV brings Chinese partner to Mississippi

Truckmaker firm up their plans, but their Chinese partner could still threaten to create political headwinds

Truck battery JV brings Chinese partner to Mississippi
China's EVE energy owns a 10pc stake in the Mississippi JV

The joint venture (JV) between Germany's Daimler Trucks, US truck maker Paccar, and American engine firm Cummins has selected Marshall County, MS as the location for its planned 21GWh battery cell factory.

The c.$2-3bn facility will initially focus on lithium-iron-phosphate (LFP) cells for commercial vehicles and industrial applications. It is due to come online in 2027.

LFP “will be able to offer several advantages compared to other battery chemistries, including lower cost, longer life, and enhanced safety, without the need for nickel and cobalt raw materials”, the JV says.

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Accelera, Daimler Truck and Paccar will each own 30pc of the business. But Chinese battery firm EVE Energy will serve as the technology partner in the joint venture with 10pc ownership and will contribute battery cell design and manufacturing expertise to the cell manufacturing plant.

Expertise in LFP manufacturing lies predominantly in China, and EVE ranked in the top three in China and top six globally in a recent survey by consultancy Bloomberg NEF. If US OEMs wish to access the cost savings associated with the chemistry, they currently have limited options beyond turning to Chinese firms as partners.

But EVE's role as the technology partner in the battery JV neatly encapsulates the dilemma facing the industry in planning for onshore US cell manufacturing. While current state and federal incentives seek to encourage OEMs towards US-produced batteries, critics argue that onshore battery projects which use Chinese technology IP is only a backdoor way of letting Chinese competition into the US market.

The Mississippi state government is, however, still considering approving state subsidies for the factory.

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