The EU is planning to allow state aid for electric battery research and will offer billions of euros of co-funding to companies willing to build giant battery factories.  Brussels is concerned that the EU auto industry, which employs 13m people, could be left behind in the race to build mass-market electric vehicles because of their reliance on batteries from Asia.

Carlos Ghosn, chief executive of Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi, said at the Paris Motor Show that the industry “cannot continue to prosper” unless it builds its own capacity. “We know very clearly that the future is electric and we simply have to catch up with this (battery) technology,” said Maros Sefcovic, energy vice-president at the European Commission. “You cannot develop new models or high-quality cars if you do not master the skills, the innovation, and research link with batteries.”

Roughly 80 percent of the world’s existing and planned battery production capacity is in Asia, according to Bloomberg data. China alone has 69 percent, with the US at 15 percent and the EU at under 4 percent.