Though some electric vehicles have seen their share of woes, from fires in individual cars to bankruptcies filed by manufacturers, German chemical maker BASF is going in for the long game by investing in the EV battery market.
Bloomberg reports the world’s largest chemical maker will use a part of its annual $2.3 billion R&D budget on battery materials — one of 10 areas targeted for growth by BASF — in the pursuit of a better battery that will help EVs run longer. Company head of global business management for BASF’s battery materials unit Adrian Steinmetz says his employer is committee to making the battery materials focus a success, noting that newer and safer batteries with a higher capacity will prove beneficial to the overall EV market:
The battery can only be as good as the chemistry inside. It’s a very technically demanding field and you really need to understand the whole interplay between different chemical compounds.
To accomplish this goal, BASF has bought four companies, established a nickel cobalt manganese plant in the United States, and bought patent licenses from rival Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings Corp, one of three market leaders — the others being Sumitomo Chemical and Ube Industries — whose dominance over lithium-ion technology, aided by proximity to related tech industries, reigns supreme.
By 2020, BASF aims to be one of the top three battery materials suppliers, pushing overall market valuation to $20 billion in the same time frame. Part of this plan includes taking the fight to the home turf of their Asian rivals, already begun with the company’s establishment of a battery materials research and development center in Amagasaki, Japan. The R&D unit provides BASF with the majority of its Asian sales.