Volkswagen has formed three new collaborations related to electric car batteries as it works to transition its entire lineup of trucks, cars, and SUVs to zero-emission cars by the year 2040. The three separate collaborations, all of which were revealed, are with Umicore, a materials technology company, 24M Technologies, a battery company, and Vulcan Energy Resources, a company that plans to open a lithium brine initiative in Germany.

Volkswagen’s joint venture (JV) with Umicore is going to supply cathode materials, a central component of the lithium-ion batteries, to the automaker’s European battery cell factories. The JV will start with a 20-gigawatt-hour production capacity, with the goal of increasing to about 160 gigawatt-hours by the year 2030. VW’s planned Gigafactory situated in Salzgitter, Germany, will be fed by the materials.

Volkswagen also announced an investment in battery startup 24M, which is working on a battery with a semi-solid electrode. The MIT spin-off claims that its manufacturing method is faster and less expensive than traditional lithium-ion battery manufacturing. The size of VW’s investment was not disclosed.

The final agreement with Vulcan incorporates a binding contract for “carbon neutral” lithium sourced from Germany, according to the companies. The companies claim that they will be able to produce carbon-neutral lithium because the brine extraction process, they are utilizing is more environmentally friendly compared to the traditional brine extraction and will be processed in a renewable-energy plant. Vulcan is going to supply the carmaker with the lithium hydroxide for 5 years from the year 2026.

All 3 deals are part of Volkswagen’s $34 billion (€30 billion) electric vehicle investment strategy. VW said it would develop 6 battery gigafactories throughout Europe by the close of the decade, having a total output capacity of about 240 gigawatt-hours.

Volkswagen isn’t the only major manufacturer making strenuous efforts to safeguard the battery supply chain. GM (General Motors) launched a similar joint venture with POSCO Chemical of South Korea earlier this month to develop a new cathode materials plant in North America by the year 2024. In the meantime, Stellantis just signed a lithium input agreement with Vulcan.

The flurry of agreements is noteworthy not just because it signals a shift in automakers’ electrification intentions, but also because they have the potential to restructure the worldwide distribution network away from China. As per Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, the bulk of battery anodes and cathodes are currently made in that country. Around 75% of the proposed lithium-ion megafactories, or 148 out of 200, are expected to be built in China.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *