Slovakian InoBat looks at battery factory for electric vehicles in Serbia

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By Nick Carey

LONDON (Reuters) – Slovak battery manufacturer InoBat said on Monday it has signed letters of intent with the Serbian government to build an electric vehicle (EV) battery factory in the Balkan country with a capacity of up to 32 gigawatt hours (GWh).

The plant is expected to open in 2025 with an initial capacity of 4 GWh.

The Serbian government has agreed to provide funding of up to 419 million euros ($431 million), including grants and tax breaks to support the project, InoBat said.

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While the deal is not yet final, a source familiar with the matter said it is nearly so.

InoBat has indicated that it wants to build a giga factory in Western Europe and one in Eastern Europe.

Last month, InoBat said it had signed a letter of intent with the Spanish government to build a gigafactory in Valladolid. The statement is not a definitive agreement and other locations, including the United Kingdom, remain under consideration for InoBat’s Western European plant.

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Some European battery startups are struggling to raise billions for huge gigafactories, while others, like InoBat, are focusing on expanding slowly as they win customer contracts.

InoBat will open a 45 megawatt-hour (MWh) pilot line in Bratislava early next year to produce high-performance batteries for customers to test and say it has signed customer agreements, including with German air taxi developer Lilium worth €500 million by 2030.

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The company aims to build battery production capacity in 4 GWh increments – each costing around EUR 350 million – from 2025 when the contracts are signed.

InoBat is also planning a research and development facility in Indiana, which could grow into a gigafactory, in a joint venture with fintech company Ideanomics.

Ideanomics is an investor in InoBat, as are mining group Rio Tinto and Czech utility company CEZ.

($1 = 0.9719 euros)

(Reporting by Nick Carey; editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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