PowerCo, a battery company from theGroup, and the Belgian materials technology group Umicore have received all regulatory approvals for their joint venture announced in September 2022.
The partners say they can now swiftly begin preparations for large-scale industrial production of cathode materials (CAM) and precursor materials (PCAM) in Europe. However, the search for a production site is still ongoing and Volkswagen says the location and the name of the joint venture will be announced: “in due course”.
By the end of the decade, the partners want to produce cathode materials for 160 gigawatt-hours of cell capacity per year. This corresponds to an annual production capacity sufficient for around 2.2 million fully electric vehicles. It is already clear that the joint venture will have its headquarters in Brussels, not far from Umicore’s headquarters. Where the production plant will be built is still open. PowerCo is building its first two European battery cell factories in Salzgitter and Sagunt (near Valencia).
The joint venture, which has yet to be named, is to “cover a large part of PowerCo’s EU requirements”, according to VW. In return, Umicore will get “secured access to an important part of the European demand” for cathode materials for electric vehicles.
Since cathode material is, according to the German carmaker, “the most important technological lever for battery performance and the largest single factor in the total cost of the battery”, the Wolfsburg-based company hopes that its own cathode material from the Umicore cooperation will provide various competitive advantages – for example in energy density, prices, but also the reliability of the supply chain.
According to earlier information, PowerCo and Umicore also want to cooperate “within the framework of further agreements” in the sustainable and responsible procurement of raw materials. Umicore is also to provide refining services for PowerCo. It is also being discussed that Umicore will contribute its refining and recycling activities to the joint venture.