Kion partners in lithium-ion battery production

by Inside Logistics Online Staff
Lithium-ion batteries have advantages for material handling applications thanks to their fast-charging capabilities.

FRANKFURT – Kion Group AG is joining forces with BMZ Holding GmbH to form a joint venture under the name of KION Battery Systems GmbH.

Kion and BMZ will each hold a 50 percent stake in the joint venture (JV), which will manufacture lithium-ion batteries for industrial trucks in the EMEA (Europe, Middle East, and Africa) region.

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,” said Gordon Riske, CEO of Kion Group AG.

“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.”

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.

Last year, electric trucks accounted for about 80 percent of unit sales – and the share continues to increase.

Lithium-ion batteries offer a particular advantage for use in electric vehicles. Unlike 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.

Across its brands, Kion has sold more than one million electric trucks in the past ten years.

The production facility for the joint venture is being built by BMZ in Karlstein am Main, Germany, at its headquarters. According to Sven Bauer, founder and CEO of BMZ Holding, direct access to proprietary test labs and development teams as well as strategic, cost-optimized product developments will be key to the success of the joint venture.

Kion’s Carsten Harnisch and Christian Hasenstab from BMZ will be appointed as managing directors of Kion Battery Systems GmbH. Each founding company will appoint two members of the four-person shareholders’ committee. The joint venture will be fully consolidated by KION GROUP AG.

By 2023, the workforce of the JV is expected to grow to around 80 employees working in mainly research, development and production functions.

Initially, the new JV will focus on the production of 48-volt and 80-volt batteries for counterbalance trucks. Soon, the offering will be expanded to 24-volt batteries for smaller warehouse trucks.

The transaction still needs to be approved by the competent antitrust regulator.

BMZ was founded by Bauer 25 years ago and has played a leading role in the development of lithium-ion batteries since the early days of this technology. It employs around 3,000 staff at its locations in the US, Germany, Poland, France, Japan and China. The BMZ Group has been growing steadily at an average rate of around 25-30 percent in recent years and has become a European market leader in battery production.