BMZ Holding and Kion Group Form Lithium-ion Battery JV for Industrial Trucks

July 11, 2019 by Scott McMahan

BMZ Holding GmbH plans to join forces with KION Group AG, a provider of intralogistics solutions, to form a lithium-ion battery joint venture. The joint venture will be under the name of KION Battery Systems GmbH.

This joint venture will produce lithium-ion batteries for industrial trucks in the EMEA region.  Both BMZ and KION boast of having world-leading know-how in lithium-ion technology.  The companies signed an agreement to this effect. Under the terms of the JV agreement, BMZ Holding GmbH and KION Group AG will each hold a 50% stake. The goal of the JV is to broaden the lithium-ion product offering for industrial trucks and to increase production capacity to best serve the rapidly growing demand for lithium-ion battery systems in the intralogistics market.

The production facility for the joint venture is built by BMZ Holding GmbH in Karlstein am Main, the headquarters of the BMZ Group. (See the image above of the headquarters of the BMZ Group in Karlstein am Main, where currently a third production hall and the logistics center are being built (1st and 2nd buildings from the right). In the future, the battery systems for the JV will be produced in "Unit 3").

By 2023, the workforce of the JV is expected to increase to about 80 employees working in primarily in R&D and production. Initially, the new JV will focus on producing of 48V and 80V batteries for counterbalance trucks. Soon, the offering will be expanded to 24V batteries for smaller warehouse trucks.

The transaction still needs to be approved by EUs antitrust regulator.

According to the companies 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," explained Gordon Riske, Chief Executive Officer 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," Sven Bauer, founder and CEO of BMZ Holding, also confirms the great potential of this collaboration.

"KION has been a highly valued partner and customer of ours for a long time. Our two companies have been fostering a strategic and operational business relationship for many years. The technology of BMZ Group and its 25 years of industry experience form a great basis on which the joint venture can build its future success and deliver benefits for both founding companies," Bauer said.

According to Bauer, having direct access to proprietary test labs and development teams as well as strategic, cost-optimized product developments will be the key to the joint venture's success.

BMZ Holding and KION Group will jointly manage the new business. BMZ's Carsten Harnisch and Christian Hasenstab from KION will be appointed as managing directors of KION Battery Systems GmbH. Likewise, each founding company will appoint two members of the four-person shareholders' committee. The joint venture will be fully consolidated by KION GROUP AG.

Strategic focus and energy

In its KION 2027 strategy, the KION Group is also placing particular emphasis on providing all relevant energy solutions at highest energy efficiency, as this is one of the critical value drivers in intralogistics and material flows.

The product portfolios of KION's brands already provide key drive technologies, from internal combustion engines to lead-acid and lithium-ion batteries as well as fuel cells.  Electric drive systems are of particular importance as KION's brands are the leading provider of electric-powered forklift and warehouse trucks.

Last year, electric trucks accounted for about 80 percent of unit sales - and the proportion continues to increase. KION points out that lithium-ion batteries are suitable even for heavy-duty trucks that carry substantial loads.

With a very broad-based supply chain, the BMZ Group says it is perfectly positioned on the international stage and can access high-quality, mature products with stable supply concepts, due to its long-standing business relationships with cell makers.