Volkswagen closes three new partnerships to amp up EV production

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Volkswagen has entered into three new partnerships related to electric vehicle batteries, as the German automaker seeks to convert its entire portfolio of cars, trucks and SUVs to zero-emissions vehicles by 2040.

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The three separate partnerships, all of which were announced on Wednesday, are with materials technology group Umicor, battery specialist 24M Technologies and Vulcan Energy Resources, a company that plans to open a lithium brine project in Germany. Is.

Volkswagen’s joint venture with Umicore will supply the automaker’s European battery cell factories with cathode materials, a key building block of lithium-ion batteries. The joint venture will have an initial production capacity of 20 gigawatt-hours, with a goal of scaling up to 160 gigawatt-hours by 2030. The material will feed VW’s planned Gigafactory in Salzgitter, Germany.

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In addition, Volkswagen said it is investing in battery start-up 24M, which is developing a battery that has a semi-solid electrode. The MIT spin-out says its manufacturing process is faster and less capital-intensive than conventional lithium-ion batteries. VW did not disclose the size of its investment.

The final partnership with Vulcan includes a binding contract for companies described as “carbon neutral” lithium sourced from Germany. The companies say it is capable of keeping lithium carbon neutral because The brine extraction process used by it is more eco-friendly than conventional brine extraction and will be processed in a plant powered by renewable energy.

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Vulcan will supply lithium hydroxide to the automaker for five years from 2026.

All three agreements are part of Volkswagen’s plan to invest €30 billion ($34 billion) in electric vehicles. In Europe alone, VW said it would build six battery gigafactories by the end of the decade, with a total of 240 gigawatt-hours of production capacity.

Volkswagen isn’t the only major automaker moving quickly to secure the battery supply chain. Earlier this month, General Motors announced a similar joint venture with Posco Chemical, South Korea, to build a new cathode materials facility in North America by 2024. Meanwhile, Stelantis secured its lithium intake agreement with Vulcan last month.

The plethora of deals is notable not only because it marks a spurt in automakers’ plans for electrification, but because such deals could help reshape the global battery supply chain away from China. Currently, most battery cathode and anode are manufactured in the country according to Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, About 75%, or 148 out of 200, planned lithium-ion megafactories There are also reasons to be located in China,

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