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Johnson Matthey targets coming EV market with $270M investment in battery material technology

During its Capital Markets Day presentations, specialty chemicals company Johnson Matthey said it will invest an initial £200 million (US$270 million) starting in 2018 to build capacity to drive growth in a market which could be more than $30 billion sales when battery electric vehicle penetration increases to around 10%.

In addition to what it projects as “breakout growth” in Battery Materials, Johnson Matthey also said it expects to deliver sustained growth in Clean Air markets—including automotive exhaust treatment solutions—driven by share gains in European light duty and upcoming tighter legislation.

Batteries. In his presentation, Dr. Alan Nelson, Sector Chief Executive, New Markets and Group CTO, said that Johnson Matthey was working on three new market opportunities: alternative powertrains, life science technologies, and medical device components. Of those, battery materials to support alternative powertrains represent the most developed opportunity, he said. Johnson Matthey first entered the Li-ion battery market in 2012.

Nelson said that the £200-million investment in high-energy battery materials was intended to manufacture up to 10,000 metric tons from FY2021-2022. The company expects to be on automotive platforms from that same time frame.

Johnson Matthey is focusing on a broad portfolio of cathode materials to support a range of electrified vehicle applications. The company is focused on material cost, energy density, and countering the deactivation of chemistries.

Johnson Matthey has IP across a range of battery materials including LNO, NMC and LFP; it also has strategic partnerships with cell manufacturers and automotive OEMs.


Of particular interest is Johnson Matthey’s eLNO, a material that the company says represents a step change in energy density compared to NMC(622), NMC(811) and NCA materials.




Clean Air. The company expects strong single-digit sales growth over the next two to three years; after that, the company expects growth to slow as a move away from light duty diesel engines in Europe and the expansion of the battery electric light duty vehicle market offset growth in Asia and strength in the heavy duty sector in North America.


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