June 20th, 2022 | 10:34 CEST
Varta, Altech Advanced Materials, BYD - Full focus on the battery of the future for e-cars
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"[...] Nickel, therefore, benefits twice: firstly from its growing importance within batteries and secondly from the generally growing demand for such storage. [...]" Terry Lynch, CEO, Power Nickel
Varta - Annual General Meeting ahead
As early as 2021, Varta AG presented its V4Drive cell, which is intended to bring the Group forward in the field of e-mobility. The round cell is characterized by a fast-charging capability but is not yet intended as a pure drive battery. So far, Porsche is testing the battery for its suitability. The downer for investors is that it will probably take until 2024 before series production starts. In the future, the technology of this cell is to be transferred to a larger format. Then it should also be possible to drive electric cars with a compound of round cells.
The Annual General Meeting is coming up on June 21, and CEO Herbert Schein's speech was already published last week. He highlights the record year 2021, as well as the increased profitability. Unlike many companies, there were no production difficulties due to the Corona impact, but this did not apply to Varta's customers. Thus, the Company was indirectly affected. Nevertheless, the Company intends to continue growing in both segments. In the Household Batteries segment, the Company was able to gain market share. In the Lithium-Ion Solutions & Microbatteries segment, the Company sees excellent growth potential in the future.
In the fall, the Group plans to start construction of its first GWh factory, provided the approvals from the countries are received. The intention is to exploit the synergies between CoinPower and V4Drive. By 2030, production capacity in the lithium-ion segment should be in the double-digit GWh range. Somewhat surprisingly, Michael Tojner sold shares worth around EUR 22 million on June 9 and 13. Subsequently, the share price rose again to currently EUR 87.10. Prices above EUR 89 would form a first small upward trend. In order to break the downward trend, the share needs prices above EUR 100.
Altech Advanced Materials - Setting the course for the future
The German company Altech Advanced Materials (AAM) does not produce batteries but has nevertheless set its sights on optimizing lithium-ion batteries. Today, installed batteries lose capacity during the first charge. These losses continue with each charging cycle due to the binding of the lithium ions to graphite particles. It has been scientifically proven that an aluminium oxide coating on the graphite can prevent these problems. AAM has found a solution for this coating process, which significantly optimizes battery performance in terms of life, power, chargeability and safety. Overall, this makes a battery 10 to 15% more powerful.
But AAM is already one step ahead. The next generation of rechargeable batteries will contain graphite-silicon anodes because silicon has ten times the capacity of graphite. Since the same problems prevail here as with graphite, the Altech ceramic coating process was developed, and a worldwide patent application was filed. On June 7, AAM announced that the Altech Group has applied for extended patent protection based on the patent application from May 2021. Currently, the Company is working on commercializing the anode material under the Silumina AnodeT brand. To this end, a pilot plant will be built this year in an industrial area in Spreewald to make the first Silumina anode material available to potential customers.
According to the economic feasibility study, the main plant should be able to produce 10,000 tons of material per year. The total cost is about USD 95 million, and EBITDA is expected to be USD 63 million annually. That would mean the investment would pay for itself within three years. The raw materials required will come from partners SGL Carbon (graphite) and Ferroglobe (silicon). The market potential is estimated at up to EUR 10 billion annually. In addition to the experienced management, the top-class supervisory board is also striking. Werner Klatten and Nikolaus Graf Lambsdorf, for example, are members. The Company's stock, which had long hovered around EUR 1, broke out for the first time in mid-April to reach EUR 1.49. The most recent price paid was EUR 1.48 for a share certificate, and it looks like the stock could break out to the upside in the short term.
BYD - The rumors about Tesla are confirmed
BYD started as a battery manufacturer and later established itself as an automotive manufacturer. Its expertise in batteries has paid off for the Chinese Group. The Blade battery they developed, a lithium iron phosphate battery, is considered a leader in the field of electric drive for passenger cars. Thanks to the efficient design of the battery packs, the Chinese have managed to outperform the competition in terms of range by up to 20%. That is one of the reasons why the Blade battery has been repeatedly associated with Tesla.
The rumors that have persisted for over a year have now been confirmed. The head of research at BYD confirmed in an interview that the Group will also supply Tesla with the Blade batteries in the future. The Company has therefore snapped at the heels of its previous supplier, CATL, which is, after all, the world's largest battery producer. However, there were no further details about the contract. No matter how many batteries Tesla will ask for, BYD will be able to deliver because they have opened a new factory in Shaoxing, which is supposed to have a production capacity of 15 GWh.
With the good news behind it, the stock was able to largely escape the downward pull of the markets. The comeback of the share started in mid-May and ended only on June 10. During this time, the share gained a good 108% from EUR 18.35 to EUR 38.22. The share price is currently EUR 34.29. The Company, in which Warren Buffet has also held a stake for a long time, is well equipped for the future. At least as long as there are no better batteries from another manufacturer.
The battery is the decisive element of an electric car. Whoever succeeds in making a breakthrough here will hardly be able to escape orders. Varta is in a good financial position and can develop the battery for e-mobility in peace. Altech Advanced Materials does not want to produce batteries at all. Its patented coating processes produce battery material that can be sold as drop-in technology to all manufacturers, making the business model easily scalable. BYD's Blade batteries currently seem to be the measure of all things; otherwise, Tesla would not have decided to install the batteries.
Conflict of interest
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