On July 22, Minister Ryad Mezzour surprised everyone by announcing that Morocco is in talks with manufacturers to build a gigafactory of electric batteries for the automotive industry. This revelation was broadcast by Reuters and Medias24.
Did this announcement have any consequences? Who do you talk to about Morocco? What could be the characteristics of this project? How does the minister justify this Moroccan strategy, which has been criticized for reasons of confidentiality?
Ryad Mezzour answers our questions in this 2nd part of the interview evaluation, which we are publishing in 4 parts.
Médias24: Minister, did you have to talk about the Gigafactory? Was it necessary to talk about it publicly in this way?
– Of course we had to talk about it for many reasons.
Operators need to know the direction of the state, the direction of the state, the motivation of the state.
There was definitely interest in the talks we had with the various partners. Morocco has certain assets to attract them to attract battery investors; but we were going a little long, a little slowed down. We had to increase the pace because Europe, our most important market, has accelerated the pace in terms of goals and transformation. So we had to give our various partners a deadline and I put before the end of the year as the deadline for completion.
The third reason is that it was necessary to arouse the interest of groups or operators trying to position themselves in neighboring countries and who could put Morocco on the agenda.
What effect did that have? Those we spoke to entered into more regular exchanges, today they ask for specs, it attracted two new operators. We find ourselves today with 5 operators in the midst of discussions with the ambition to close with at least one of them before the end of the year. It has made Morocco a priority again in the minds of our traditional partners who are the home builders here.
– You say that you have decided to take part in this excursion …
-Apparently. It is a decision made as part of a proactive strategy to be able to install this gigafactory in Morocco, essential to the automotive ecosystem.
– So you are saying that Morocco had no choice, it had to do it…
-He has no choice and he has all the means to do so.
Morocco has no choice because 90% of our car exports go to Europe and Europe has decided to go fully electric by 2035. So if we don’t have talks, if we don’t secure an operator, we won’t be able to embrace this transition that has already started and will accelerate in the coming years.
The battery accounts for a third of the car’s value.
We’ve worked for 15 years to achieve a 64% integration rate, which is one of the highest integration rates in the world. We will get 80% and we could lose 20-30 points if we don’t play the game.
-Who you are talking to since you mention 5 operators
-I can’t talk about them, on the one hand in comparison with them and on the other hand, so as not to arouse the interest of certain competitors. The operators in question are located on three continents, America, Europe and Asia.
–Our colleague Le1 accused you of competing with Jazouli’s department and with Amdie in terms of investments. What do you say?
-We work in full synchronization within the government in general. There can be friction at times, we cannot deny it, but there is a positive imitation that is beneficial in moving the issues forward.
We went to the Farnborough Air Show together last month to look for investments for Morocco.
– Coming back to the production of batteries, let’s try to imagine what a gigafactory in Morocco would look like. First of all, there would be a foreign operator.
– Yes, there would be a foreign operator.
-Would he invest all the capital? Would there be Moroccans?
-There would be Moroccan operators with him, especially public ones, ready to accompany him.
-CDG, Mohammed VI Fund or others….
-Let’s see, what will come next. You bring a lot of technology with you… How are you going to go about the lithium? You need long-term supply contracts.
– Here, too, it would be an operator with installations that is not only installed in Morocco. He would have already secured part of his supplies.
This operator would either already be in production; or in prototyping with fundraising and also supply security.
It’s also not lost on you that Renault has signed a deal with Managem to supply cobalt. It’s for the battery.
Morocco wants to enter this field with its strengths, and these strengths are diverse. First the outlets. We have two types of battery point of sale: the automotive platform, which in itself is capable of hosting a gigafactory and integrating its batteries manufactured in Morocco. But also for everything that is renewable energy, we could supply all local production of electric vehicles and then start supplying the stationary ones.
There are two categories of batteries: those for mobility, those for vehicles. And those called stationary, designed to store the electricity generated by renewable energy. The battery is one of the solutions to meet the storage needs in renewable energies.
-One can imagine that manufacturers could choose to source from Asia.
-No, their interest is to get supplies in Morocco. And 90% of their production in Morocco goes to Europe.
So in 2035 we will either produce batteries to power these vehicles because these batteries will be an integral part of cars; either the auto industry doesn’t. There will be hybrids for a while, then nothing. It would be the programmed death of our automotive platform.
-What is the magnitude of an investment in a gigafactory?
-About 2 billion euros.
-And the jobs?
-It all depends on capacity and scalability. A gigafactory consists of several lines, each line has a capacity of 3 to 4 gigas (GWh). It can supply about 40,000 to 60,000 cars because the size of the cars also matters.
–How many lines should we start with? 4? 5?
-You could have 2, 3 or 5 rows. It’s modular, independent.
-You presented the possible sales points to potential investors…
-In our discussions, one of the advantages that attracts investors is this ability to provide mobility and stationary assets.
– They expect to graduate before the end of the year…
-I do everything for. I have good hope.
It is interesting that our partners are increasingly in a hurry. This declaration has pushed them more and more into a positive imitation to be the first to settle in Morocco and benefit from this accompaniment that Morocco will give to the first to take the plunge.