Stellantis and Mercedes chose Umicore as battery material supplier

Belgian materials group Umicore has struck a deal with Automotive Cells Company (ACC), the battery joint venture between Mercedes, Stellantis, and TotalEnergies. Umicore will supply the battery factories from ACC with next-generation high-nickel cathode material through its Polish factory. The Belgian company now has three major auto groups in its portfolio since it has already made a similar deal with Volkswagen.

Initially, Umicore will provide ACC with enough material to the equivalent of 13 GWh, a volume expected to be realized in 2024. Later on, the commitment will grow to 46 GWh, meaning that the Antwerp-based company will supply at least half a million EVs in Europe.

Securing the supply line

Umicore’s Polish subsidiary in Nysa will supply the materials for the cathodes, which can be regarded as the heart of the battery. Matthias Miedreich, at the helm of Umicore for half a year, commented: “We are very pleased to partner with ACC by enabling the fast transition to electric driving.”

For ACC, it is essential to secure a supply line for its cell production, especially within the framework of current and near-future surging prices of raw materials. “This confirms our ambition to become a European leader for car batteries that allow clean and efficient mobility for all,” said Yann vincent, CEO of ACC.

Three plants

ACC already has a battery plant running in Douvrin, France, and is constructing a second one in Kaiserslautern, Germany, which is scheduled for opening in 2023. ACC announced earlier that the factories would have an output of 24 GWh annually but has raised that objective to 40 GWh. Therefore, ACC will construct a third facility at the Fiat plant in Termoli.

For Umicore, the new deal comes on top of an earlier agreement with Volkswagen to establish a joint venture for battery materials. That deal was struck in early December last year and should account for supplying 2,2 million EVs when production capacity at Volkswagen’s battery plants has reached its peak.

Adding the ACC agreement, that figure will rise to 2,7 million electric cars annually. With new partners Stellantis and Mercedes, Umicore grants itself access to possibly supplying half of the Western-European car market, meaning its forecasted crucial role is materializing.

Nickel prices soaring

Expectations were always high for Umicore to play the first violin in the shift to electric mobility. But betting on nickel bears risks with a car industry increasingly looking at lithium-iron-phosphate battery packs (LFP) with neither nickel nor cobalt as primary materials.

As a trade-off, these batteries have a lower energy density affecting range. Nickel prices have also been skyrocketing lately, unsettling car makers, but now that Umicore has secured this second deal, its past decisions are bearing fruit.

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