A Boucherville plant in the empire of French billionaire Vincent Bolloré manufactures batteries for Mercedes-Benz eCitaro electric buses, has learned The newspaper.
“All the batteries that are in the Daimler (Mercedes-Benz parent company) buses are 100% produced in Quebec. It’s the only solid commercial battery in the world, ”told the Newspaper Alain Vallée, General Manager of Blue Solutions Canada.
In recent years, hundreds of millions of dollars have been invested in the Boucherville plant owned by the Bolloré Group of French billionaire Vincent Bolloré, whose fortune is close to $ 6.3 billion, according to Forbes.
Today, the French giant is reaping the benefits thanks to its plant in Quebec, which manufactures the batteries for the Mercedes-Benz eCitaro.
"Since last week, the first buses with Quebec batteries have left the production line and are circulating in several European countries," said Alain Vallée, boss of Blue Solutions Canada.
“Everything is done in Quebec. We do design, chemistry, mechanics and electronics. It is 100% developed in Boucherville. Our subcontractors are also in the Montreal region, ”continued Alain Vallée.
Round the clock
At the factory, the machines are running at full speed.
“We do research and development and production. We start working Sunday evenings at 7:00 p.m. and we stop Friday nights at 7:00 p.m., "he said.
Blue Solutions designed a solid battery, unlike the lithium-ion battery, which has a liquid electrolyte and is known to be less stable.
"It is often said that lithium-ion batteries are riskier, that's why everyone wants to go“ all solid ”," explains Alain Vallée.
With giants like LG and Samsung (South Korea), Panasonic (Japan) and CATL, BYD (China), which hold more than 80% of the lithium-ion battery market, there's no point playing in these leagues. Blue Solutions relies instead on its solid battery.
When we ask Alain Vallée of Blue Solutions Canada if Quebec is doing well to want to extend more than a billion dollars of public funds in the sector, he replies that Quebec has all the assets to succeed.
“It looks a lot like the aluminum industry. We could create a second industry in Quebec with lithium and become a major player in supplying the battery of tomorrow, ”he concludes.
► In mid-September, Quebec said it was ready to invest up to $ 1.4 billion to have a "Made in Quebec" lithium battery electrification industry.
Another ancient Hydro creature is successful
Like TM4 in Boucherville, Blue Solutions formerly belonged to Hydro-Quebec before being taken over by foreigners, who have taken advantage of years of research and development to propel the company.
"I understand that in 2007, there are many who did not understand the importance of the electrification of transport, but in 2020, we should not reproduce the mistakes of the past by letting go of the flagships", believes Daniel Breton , CEO of Electric Mobility Canada (EMC).
Like him, Stéphane Pascalon, electrification advisor, believes that the state has a role to play in keeping a strong electricity industry here. "The public should help a complete value chain that structures the various private links", analyzed the expert in electrification.
For Daniel Breton, it is essential that Quebec and Ottawa keep their hands on the wheel to avoid being overtaken by foreign players. “If governments want to invest, they need to make sure they have some control over intellectual property, expertise and brains,” he argued.
In Quebec, the story of Blue Solutions began in 2001. At the time, Hydro-Quebec (50%) and the American Kerr-McGee (50%) created the company Avestor to revolutionize the car battery industry electric.
A year later, the company opened its plant in Boucherville, on the South Shore of Montreal. Two years later, Avestor CEO Tadek Borys left the ship as his batteries were blamed after a series of fires.
In 2006, Avestor came under the Creditors Arrangement Act. More than 260 workers lose their jobs. Hydro-Québec and its partner lose nearly $ 200 million.
One year later, the Bolloré Group bought the assets of Avestor. The Boucherville plant changes its name to Bathium Canada, then Blue Solutions.
Source: Blue Solutions