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‘Made-in-the US’ lithium-ion cell supply deal signed by Proterra and LGES

Wed, 08/25/2021 - 09:12 -- Paul Crompton
 lithium-ion battery by Proterra

Electric vehicle and charging firm Proterra has finalised a six-year lithium-ion deal with LG Energy Solution that represents plans for “multiple GWhs of dedicated battery cell capacity” in the US.

The deal extends the firms existing battery-cell supply agreement, and secures Proterra a stable supply of LG Energy Solution (LGES)— a LG Chem subsidiary— battery cells through to 2028. 

The high nickel NCMA cells will be used to manufacture Proterra’s commercial electric vehicle battery systems.

California-based Proterra had to stump up a “nine-figure sum” to secure the long-term supply of lithium-ion cylindrical cells manufactured at Korean-owned LG Energy Solution’s US plant.

Both Proterra and LGES now plan to obtain approval from their board of directors for the agreement by Q4.

Proterra did not confirm the location of the plant that would make the cells when questioned by BEST

LGES plans to invest more than $4.5 billion in US manufacturing capacity, including plants in Michigan and Ohio (in conjunction with with General Motors, which is under construction).

LGES is also working on a pilot plant for Tesla’s 4680 prototype lithium-ion cells.

High nickel NCMA cells 

Wonjoon Suh, the senior vice president and the division leader of Mobility and IT Battery Division at LGES, said: “The collaboration between LG Energy Solution and Proterra will act as a critical milestone in seizing America’s eco-friendly commercial vehicle industry, already taking a lead in the global market. 

“LGES will continue to expand our EV battery manufacturing capability in the U.S. and bolster local supply chain to foster clean energy industry in the US.”

Since 2016, Proterra and LG Chem engineering teams have been collaborating to increase cell performance to meet the requirements of commercial vehicle markets. 

The cylindrical cells to be manufactured at the new LGES plants will feature a high nickel NCMA chemistry engineered for commercial vehicle and industrial applications. 

Earlier this month, LGES secured 100% rights to battery-grade nickel and cobalt materials from Australian Mines.

The six-year deal is for mixed hydroxide precipitate (MPH) from the $1.5 billion Sconi Project in North Queensland, in which it will have access to 71,000 tonnes of nickel and 7,000 tonnes of cobalt from the end of 2024.

LGES signed a lithium-ion battery materials off-take deal with Australian firm Vulcan Energy in August for up to 45 metric tonnes of lithium hydroxide over the five-year term of the deal.

LG Energy Solution woes

In June, LGES was forced to extend its safety recall over concerns its lithium-ion powered Resu-branded residential energy storage units installed could overheat and catch on fire.

The affected units were equipped with lithium-ion cells manufactured between March 2017 and September 2018. 

The systems were installed as part of a residential energy solar system, which allowed owners to capture and store energy from solar panels. 

 

Launched in December, LGES said it had received ‘isolated reports’ about overheating incidents linked to home energy storage system battery installations. 

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