2019-07-11

The future is looking electric

#energy #lithium ion battery

If you want to shape the future of intralogistics, you need to have the right drive solutions - in the truest sense of the word. The KION Group and its strong brands recognized the potential of the lithium-ion battery early on, incorporated it into their drive technology portfolio and established themselves as a leading supplier of electrically powered forklift trucks and warehouse equipment. In the meantime, electrically powered vehicles now account for 80 percent of sales. Industry specialist BMZ and the KION Group have just signed an agreement to set up a joint venture (JV) to produce the batteries.

Over one million electric vehicles delivered within ten years; the sales figures are a clear indication that the KION Group has backed the right horse when it comes to e-Mobility. With the KION 2027 Strategy, the company has energy efficiency as one of its top priorities and thus has set the course for focusing on the right research and development activities. Among the numerous key drive technologies KION currently offers - from combustion engines to lead-acid and lithium-ion batteries to fuel cells - electromobility has played a particularly important role from the very start. The latest trend in drive technology offers numerous benefits for customers: lithium-ion batteries do not have to be swapped out, and, thanks to rapid charging times and practical opportunity ones, they represent an economical alternative to the classic lead-acid battery, especially for intensive shift operations in a warehouse.

These advantages are convincing a growing number of customers to request them and the proof, it seems, is in the pudding: e-vehicles accounted for 80 percent of KION Group sales in 2018.

With the demand steadily increasing and the desire to further expand its leading market position, the KION Group is now heading for the next milestone: a strategic partnership with BMZ Holding, Europe's leading supplier of lithium-ion battery solutions. However, the respective antitrust authorities must first approve the deal. The goal at KION Battery Systems GmbH, the name of the new JV, is to establish an efficient production of lithium-ion batteries and quickly delivery them to customers.

Productive partnership benefitting both companies

"This alliance significantly strengthens our position in lithium-ion battery solutions and gives the KION Group - and thus all brands in the Group worldwide - an even stronger competitive position," notes Gordon Riske, CEO of KION GROUP AG. The company has had a long-standing relationship with BMZ Holding, creating the perfect launching pad for the latest projects together. "The technology and the BMZ Group’s 25 years of experience provide the JV with an excellent foundation for a successful future, where both companies will benefit sustainably," emphasizes Sven Bauer, BMZ Holding’s founder and managing director.

Both companies each hold 50 percent of the new JV with equal rights. The place where the two partners pool their experience and expertise is located directly at the BMZ headquarters in the Bavarian town of Karlstein am Main. In the new production plant, 48-volt and 80-volt batteries for counterbalanced trucks will be the initial products with 24-volt batteries for smaller warehouse equipment to round out the portfolio, covering the full range of battery requirements in intralogistics.

An address for the lithium-ion tomorrow’s standards

The team at the new location is expected to reach around 80 employees by 2023, providing powerful answers to the steadily growing demand for lithium-ion batteries. But Karlstein is not only seen as a production site; the technological possibilities of the battery are far from exhausted and offer numerous optimization options and further development where both partners can better respond to customer requests and individual operating characteristics in the future. Plans call for intensive research to be carried out at the new location to design and manufacture new standards for tomorrow's driver technology.

However, the JV benefits for KION customers are already obvious, regardless of the research involved. With its own production facility, KION can offer maximum delivery reliability and cover the long-term demand for the latest lithium-ion batteries available – all from its very own resources. The JV creates the best conditions for customers to achieve their own sustainability goals, thanks to future-proof drive solutions made in Germany.

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