Umicore and Volkswagen establish battery joint venture

Belgian materials specialist Umicore and PowerCo, Volkswagen Group's battery subsidiary, are setting up a joint venture for the European production of battery materials for electric cars. The two companies announced this on Monday.

The joint venture had already been announced in December last year, but is now made official. For Umicore, the far-reaching cooperation with Volkswagen - still Europe's largest car manufacturer - is big news. Earlier this year, Umicore already announced that it may start supplying cathode material to Automotive Cells Company (ACC), the car battery joint venture between manufacturers Mercedes-Benz and Stellantis and energy giant TotalEnergies.

The new joint venture with Volkswagen will produce materials to eventually supply 2,2 million electric cars a year with batteries. The aim is to supply cathode materials for the six battery plants that PowerCo is planning over time.

The joint venture is in line with the trend where carmakers themselves want to be much more involved in the production of materials for their own batteries.

Cathodes consist of refined black powder, crucial for the performance of electric car batteries. Umicore opened its first plant for such battery materials in Europe in Poland this week. The joint venture also fits in with the European Union's plans to have its own battery production chains locally, thus reducing dependence on Asia. Furthermore, it is in line with the trend where carmakers themselves want to be much more involved in the production of materials for their own batteries.

The joint venture between Umicore and the Volkswagen subsidiary will invest €3 billion in the supply chain. The aim is to supply battery materials to PowerCo's battery plants as early as 2025. It is also looking to eventually include battery refining and recycling in the chain. The headquarters of the joint venture will be in Brussels.



© PHOTO Ronny Hartmann / AFP

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