New Serbian EV battery plant to help meet surge in demand

Slovakia-based battery company InoBat Auto has signed a declaration of intent with the Serbian government to build a new battery electric vehicle (BEV) gigafactory in Serbia, the company announced on Monday November 14

InoBat aims to increase electric vehicle (EV) battery production capacity in 4 gigawatt hour (GWh) increments, beginning in 2025.

Based on Fastmarkets’ research, the 4 GWh of initial cell capacity planned in Serbia represents just 1.3% of Europe’s total BEV GWh battery demand in 2025. This would be enough to supply between 40,000-80,000 BEVs, depending on pack size.

According to Fastmarkets analyst Jordan Roberts, building out in 4GWh increments when demand and supply materialize is a smart approach, and this plan should help with scaling up production to commercial levels.

If the agreement is finalized, the Serbian government will provide financial and material support for the construction and operation of the battery manufacturing and recycling facility.

“The agreement reflects our shared ambition for the future of green mobility and the importance of fostering sustainable growth models,” Marian Bocek, InoBat’s chief executive officer, said in the announcement.

The development of InoBat’s gigafactory project in Serbia is supported by International Finance Corporation (IFT), as a part of the initiative to help countries in Europe to invest private sector investments into the green transition.

Inobat has been one of the more active participants in the market, setting up a suite of joint ventures and strategic partnerships over the past quarter while western nations also look to localize their BEV supply chains.

The cells InoBat produces are lithium-ion and based on nickel-rich chemistry. Their first nickel-manganese-cobalt (NMC) 622 battery is fully developed and has passed all safety and performance tests, according to the company’s website.

The prices for battery raw materials that go into an NMC battery, such as nickel and cobalt, have been falling throughout the past quarter amid macroeconomic headwinds and alternative materials like mixed hydroxide precipitate (MHP) entering the market. But market analysts expect demand for battery raw materials to grow and remain strong in the longer term.

Market participants told Fastmarkets that NMC remains the battery chemistry of choice in regions like Europe and the US due to its performance in cold weather and the market’s focus on range performance.

Cobalt demand is expected to grow from 177,000 tonnes in 2022 to 194,000 tonnes in the following year, according to Fastmarkets research. Nickel demand is also expected to grow, from nearly 2.9 million tonnes to 3.1 million tonnes in 2023. Demand is forecast to keep up with supply.

Fastmarkets’ assessment of the nickel briquette premium, in-whs Rotterdam was $600-900 per tonne on November 8, down from $650-950 on November 1.

Fastmarkets’ assessment of cobalt standard grade, in-whs Rotterdam was $21.90-22.90 per lb on Monday, down from $21.90-23.05 per lb on November 11.

Lithium, which is also used in NMC batteries, continues to be supported by growing demand in a tight spot market.

Fastmarkets’ assessment of lithium hydroxide monohydrate LiOH.H2O 56.5% LiOH min, battery grade, spot price ddp Europe and US was $80-82 per kg on November 10, up from $78-80 per kg on November 3.

InoBat announced on November 1 that it secured the necessary regional incentives to develop its first North American facility in the US state of Indiana, and announced on October 19 that it signed a declaration of intent with Spanish authorities to construct a new plant in Spain.

Keep up to date with battery raw material prices, news, trends and forecasts on our dedicated battery materials page.

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