Umicore and Volkswagen in EV Battery Materials JV

10.12.2021 - Belgian chemicals and recycling company Umicore is teaming up with German carmaker Volkswagen in a joint venture to produce cathode materials for VW’s battery cell production. The companies said the new firm would be the first of its kind in the European automotive market and would support the ambitious objectives of the EU’s Green Deal.

Along with the advantages of establishing a sustainable battery supply chain for electric vehicles, the partners tout their deal as a “strong signal” for the ongoing rollout of innovative battery cell technologies and capabilities in the region. The joint venture’s portfolio will cover next-generation technologies, which Umicore said will include a “very large portion of high-nickel chemistries,” which enable higher energy density and a longer driving range.

The plans call for a gradual ramp-up of precursor and cathode material capacity, beginning in 2025 with an initial annual volume of 20 GWh for Volkswagen’s plant in Salzgitter, Germany. Up the end of the decade, annual capacity should grow to an output level of 160 GWh, enough to power about 2.2 million full electric vehicles (EVs), the partners believe. 

Umicore and Volkswagen also plan to collaborate on the sustainable and responsible sourcing of raw materials, which the Belgian company counts as a strong area of expertise. At a later stage, the jv is planned to be extended, with elements of refining and battery recycling integrated into the concept.


“Teaming up with Umicore enables us to establish a state-of-the-art supply chain in Europe as we share common values such as responsible sourcing of raw materials, as well as closed-loop thinking,” said Thomas Schall, CEO of Volkswagen Group Components. It will also also unlock significant economies of scale.

Parallel to the buildup of production capacity for VW, Umicore said it will continue to develop its technological and production capabilities to meet the needs of its automotive and battery-cell customers generally as they implement their electrification strategies.

The deal with the German carmaker will offer Umicore secured access to an important share of European demand for EV cathode materials, which the company said will unlock significant economies of scale. Analysts said the partnership to get through a period of scaled-back demand from the automotive industry.

Author: Dede Williams, Freelance Journalist