By Nick Carey
LONDON (Reuters) - Chinese battery maker Gotion High Tech and Slovak battery startup Inobat said on Monday they will jointly build an electric vehicles battery factory in Europe by 2026 with an initial output of 20 gigawatt hours (GWh).
Construction on the plant will begin in 2024 and after launching full production in 2026, Inobat CEO Marian Bocek said in a statement that output can then be gradually increased.
Bocek said the companies are finalizing a location for the plant, with several European countries under consideration.
The announcement comes just over two weeks after the companies said Gotion was buying a 25% stake in Inobat and will provide the startup with supply chain and technology support as it scales up production of EV batteries.
Gotion's top shareholder is Volkswagen and it has an "exclusive contract with Volkswagen to supply EV batteries outside of China," Inobat and the Chinese battery maker said on Monday.
Gotion is also building a $2.36 billion battery plant in Michigan and a $2 billion plant in Illinois.
Europe's efforts to build out its own EV battery industry and reduce reliance on dominant Asian battery makers have seen only a few companies draw continued investment as funding for startups has dried up amid high interest rates and economic uncertainty.
Last month Swedish lithium-ion battery producer Northvolt - whose customers include Volkswagen and Volvo Cars - told Reuters it had raised $1.2 billion from investors.
And last week French battery startup Verkor said it had secured more than 2 billion euros ($2.13 billion) in funding to build a gigafactory in Dunkirk.
Inobat currently has a pilot battery production line operating in Slovakia and has also signed declarations of intent with the governments of Spain and Serbia to build EV battery plants.
($1 = 0.9378 euros)
(Reporting By Nick Carey; editing by David Evans)