major announcements, not for a lack of it on this Tuesday in Berlin, at the core of something very Small: the Lithium-ion cells that are barely larger than regular AA batteries. They are switched in Thousands together in large packs in electric cars installed. So far, in Germany there is no company that makes these battery cells. Federal Minister Peter Altmaier (CDU) wants to change that, with a billion euros of German tax money. More, the EU is not allowed for such projects.

Already in around ten years, says Altmaier, “a third of the world’s demand” to be met with such a battery cells, “from German and European production”. These are ambitious goals, after all the cells have so far come almost exclusively from the far East or North America. However, despite the ambitious intentions: The Initiative of economy Minister is right and necessary, if Germany’s car industry, which many jobs depend, does not want to lose the connection in the electrical mobility.

so Far, the big car manufacturer buy the battery cells from abroad and assemble yourself packages for their electric cars. Thus, a large part of the value added is lost to Germany, but the batteries make up about a third of the value of an electric car. The Federal government and the trade unions also fear a too strong dependence on external suppliers and penetrate for some time on a national or at least European strategy. Therefore, it is not reasonable that the state is relying solely on the industry, but works in close conjunction with and promotes. It also takes a certain courage to this new development. Fortunately, Altmaier is not afraid of this risk.

call On the joint press conference with the Vice-President of the European Commission, Maroš Šefčovič, wanted to Altmaier, still no names of companies involved. In the Background, but is negotiated in longer concrete. Three consortia have been formed, i.e., associations of companies, are placed together, of which two are also European. It is certainly beneficial that this diversity is promoted, finally, the risk of widespread failure, subsidies will be reduced as a result.

quality is more important than a cheaper price.

Nevertheless it is not excluded that the aid takes a similar path to that of the German solar industry, which was built at the beginning of the 2000s, with the legally guaranteed feed-in tariff. As a result, the production of solar panels was booming in this country – but only a few years later, many manufacturers went into bankruptcy because they could not compete in the price war against the Asian producers. How will Altmaier prevent a similar scenario for the battery cells?

“We will not win the Competition to be the cheapest batteries you may,” replies the Minister. “But the Competition for the best batteries is still to be decided.” Also Šefčovič is determined. Europe has proven with Airbus that they could build the best airplanes in the world, if you promote the existing Know-how will bundle and open to the public. Unlike in the case of the Airbus there is no direct state participation in the companies was provided, adds the Commission of Vice.

Actually, the chances for success of the project increase due to the fact that it requires a large and experienced actors, in order to realize it. In the interview, the battery manufacturer Varta, the chemical company, BASF, as well as car manufacturer Ford have been longer. It is unclear whether Volkswagen is involved. The large automotive suppliers, Bosch is on the other hand, occupies a leading Position in the development of electric motors, has ruled out participation.

© Michael stern Zacharias Zacharakis

editor in the Department of politics, the economy and society, TIME ONLINE

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is Clear: The construction of such a factory requires considerable investment. The high amount of funding declared. Alone until the Start of the production in a factory, a consortium need at least 500 million euros, said Altmaier. How high, then, in each case, the grant fails, the Minister said.

So that the battery cells remain cost effective, you must reach the company’s high volume – and therefore, once large sums of money in modern production technology to invest. Just the will install the biggest challenge, as automated production lines, which are very powerful batteries. Only if the company can master this, you can be successful in the long term.