Kion begins lithium-ion battery production

by Inside Logistics Online Staff

FRANKFURT, Germany – Kion Battery Systems (KBS), a joint venture between intralogistics provider Kion Group AG and battery manufacturer BMZ Holding GmbH, has started production of lithium-ion batteries for industrial trucks.

In the summer of 2019, the two companies announced a strategic partnership and the establishment of their own production facility in Karlstein am Main, Germany, where the BMZ Group is headquartered. The joint venture will extend Kion’s lithium-ion product range and expand production capacity in order to meet the rapidly growing demand for lithium-ion battery systems in the intralogistics market, especially in the EMEA region.

“Following the successful start of production, we will now focus on increasing capacity and developing new battery systems,” says Carsten Harnisch, CEO of Kion Battery Systems.

The production lines in the new 4,000m² factory building are capable of manufacturing more than 12,000 batteries a year, mainly for heavy-duty and high-performance forklifts and other industrial trucks made by the Kion Group brand companies. There are also administration, research, and warehouse areas.

“The new production facilities at KBS will allow us to meet the increasing demand for modern lithium-ion batteries and offer customers a highly reliable supply of products,” says Christian Hasenstab, joint managing director of the new venture.

The joint venture will benefit from the partners’ many years of experience and extensive expertise, and from the pooling of purchasing activities, especially with regard to lithium-ion cells. By 2023, the workforce at Kion Battery Systems is expected to grow to around 150 employees working primarily in research, development, and production.

Focus on energy

Kion’s product portfolio already comprises all manner of drive technologies, from internal combustion engines to lead-acid and lithium-ion batteries, and fuel cells. Electric drive systems are of particular importance given that the Group has sold more than one million electric trucks in the past ten years.

BMZ was founded by its current CEO, Sven Bauer, 25 years ago and has played a leading role in the development of lithium-ion batteries since the early days of this technology.

With an installed base of more than 1.5 million industrial trucks and over 6,000 installed systems, the KION Group’s customers include companies of various sizes in numerous industries on six continents. The Group currently has more than 35,000 employees and generated revenue of €8.8 billion in 2019.

The BMZ Group is headquartered in Germany and has production facilities in the U.S., China, and Poland, as well as branches in Japan, France, and the UK. The group also operates research and development facilities at various locations around the world.

The investment of more than €150 million since 2018 has seen production capacity increase two-fold, and in some cases even three-fold. In Germany alone, the Group operates 60,000m² of battery production facilities, and a new central logistics centre with around 12,000 pallet spaces for storing lithium-ion batteries and other hazardous goods came online in 2020. The BMZ Group employs around 3,000 people worldwide.