South Korea’s Cosmo Advanced Materials & Technology is considering adding exclusive production lines for cathode active material NCM (nickel-cobalt-manganese) used in EV batteries.
Industry sources said on June 5 that Cosmo has been pressed to make the call after trying to produce NCM523 material from its existing production lines for lithium-cobalt-oxide (LCO) used in smaller batteries. The mismatch is causing production setbacks, according to the sources.
An exclusive NCM line would solve the problem, especially if Cosmo is looking to also manufacture a more widely-applicable NCM622, or NCM811 with higher nickel content, they said. The firm plans to reach a decision by the end of this year. The NCM market is rapidly gaining traction on the solid growth of EVs.
Experts are putting the margin rate at around 6-8%, which is higher than the 2-3% for LCO. Some manufacturers even project double-digit rates. Market research firm SNE Research data showed that the global supply for cathode active materials for batteries in eco-friendly cars (EV, PHEV, HEV) grew to 207,000 tons in 2018 after jumping 59.2% from 2017.
In particular, NCM523 jumped 6.8 times from the previous year to 48,000 tons, while supplies of NCM622 more than doubled to 23,000 tons. Meanwhile, to further widen its horizons, sources say Cosmo is looking to woo top EV battery clients such as LG Chem, Samsung SDI and SK Innovation, which are currently getting their battery materials elsewhere.