Brussels — Umicore has announced an acceleration of its capacity expansion investments for NMC (nickel manganese cobalt) cathode materials. The acceleration is required to meet a surge in demand for materials used in hybrid and electric vehicles.
The expansion program entails investments of some € 160 million over a period of three years at the company’s existing facilities in Cheonan (South Korea) and Jiangmen (China), as well as greenfield investments on adjacent land in both locations. Umicore will deploy its latest generation of proprietary production technologies which will enable the company to triple existing capacity by the end of 2018 across a broad range of material grades. These are in compliance with the very highest quality standards for the automotive industry. The new capacity should start coming on stream in the second part of 2017.
Vehicle electrification is being driven by the need to reduce CO2 emissions and improve air quality. In many regions this is being supported by ambitious emission legislation. The number of electrified vehicle models being launched has been surging in recent months and the penetration of these vehicles, ranging from mild hybrid cars to full electric models, is projected to grow at an increasingly fast pace. There is also a trend towards electrification of vehicles used for public transportation such as electric buses. Umicore’s NMC cathode materials are key ingredients in enabling the improvements required for battery technology to increase driving range and reduce the total cost of electrified vehicle ownership.
Marc Grynberg, CEO of Umicore, commented: „We are excited by the acceleration of demand and, thanks to the hard work of our teams in the past several years, we are well prepared to add significant capacity fast in support of our customers‘ growth. Umicore has a unique position in cathode materials and these investments underscore our ambition to be a global leader in materials that enable clean mobility. We are proud to be playing this role in sustainable transportation.“