Joint venture for lithium-ion batteries launched
BMZ takes another step forward on its growth and innovation path, as it prepares to join forces with KION GROUP to form a joint venture under the name of KION Battery Systems. This joint venture will manufacture lithium-ion batteries for industrial trucks in the EMEA region.
The two companies now signed an agreement to this effect. BMZ and KION will each hold a 50% stake in the joint venture (JV). The objective of the JV is to broaden the lithium-ion product offering and to increase production capacity to best serve the rapidly growing demand for lithium-ion battery systems in the intralogistics market.
The production facility for the joint venture is built by BMZ in Karlstein am Main, the headquarters of the BMZ Group. By 2023, the workforce of the JV is expected to grow to around 80 employees working in mainly research, development and production functions.
Both BMZ and KION have world-leading know-how in the field of lithium-ion technology. Initially, the new JV will focus on the production of 48V and 80V batteries for counterbalance trucks. Soon, the offering will be expanded to 24V batteries for smaller warehouse trucks. The transaction still needs to be approved by the competent antitrust regulator.
This joint venture represents a far-reaching strategic partnership between Europe’s biggest manufacturer of industrial trucks and the leading European provider of lithium-ion battery solutions.
“This alliance will boost our role in the lithium-ion battery segment and will put the KION Group – and, by extension, all of the KION brand companies – in an even stronger competitive position,” explained Gordon Riske, Chief Executive Officer of KION. “The cooperation with BMZ Group will enable us to effectively meet the steadily growing demand for advanced lithium-ion batteries and to ensure highest reliability of supply for our customers.”
Sven Bauer, founder and CEO of BMZ, added: “KION has been a highly valued partner and customer of ours for a long time. Our two companies have been fostering a strategic and operational business relationship for many years. The technology of BMZ Group and its 25 years of industry experience form a great basis on which the joint venture can build its future success and deliver benefits for both founding companies.” According to Bauer, direct access to proprietary test labs and development teams as well as strategic, cost-optimised product developments will be key to the success of the joint venture.
The new business will be jointly managed by the BMZ Holding and KION Group. BMZ’s Christian Hasenstab and Carsten Harnisch from KION will be appointed as managing directors of KION Battery Systems. Likewise, each founding company will appoint two members of the four-person shareholders’ committee. The joint venture will be fully consolidated by KION.
In its KION 2027 strategy, the KION Group is also placing particular emphasis on providing all relevant energy solutions at highest energy efficiency, as this is one of the key value drivers in intralogistics and material flows. The Group’s global research and development activities focus on key drive technologies for the future. The product portfolios of KION’s brands already provide keydrive technologies, from internal combustion engines to lead-acid and lithium-ion batteries as well as fuel cells.
Electric drive systems are of particular importance as KION’s brands are the leading provider of electric-powered forklift and warehouse trucks. Across its brands, the Group has sold more than one million electric trucks in the past ten years.
Last year, electric trucks accounted for about 80% of unit sales, and the share continues to increase. Lithium-ion batteries offer a particular advantage for use in electric vehicles: For example, in contrast to traditional lead-acid batteries, there is no need to swap batteries, because lithium-ion technology supports rapid charging and opportunity charging.
There have also been huge advances in the technological development of lithium-ion batteries. They are already a very attractive and cost-effective option in all areas where industrial trucks are used, especially where facilities operate an intensive shift schedule. The batteries are suitable even for heavy-duty trucks that carry substantial loads.
BMZ was founded by its current CEO 25 years ago and has played a leading role in the development of lithium-ion batteries since the early days of this technology. With a very broad-based supply chain, the BMZ Group is perfectly positioned on the international stage and can access high-quality, mature products with stable supply concepts, thanks to its long-standing business relationships with cell manufacturers.