Worried about nickel supply, China battery maker BYD welcomes JV discussions

April 11, 2019

By Tom Daly

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Securing enough nickel is a major worry for electric vehicle firms, an executive from Chinese electric car and battery maker BYD Co Ltd said on Thursday, adding that the company would welcome joint ventures that help guarantee supply.

Nickel is one of several metals that are key components of electric vehicle (EV) batteries. A shift in battery chemistry toward higher nickel content, which would allow cars to go further on a single charge, is expected to boost demand further.

“The supply of nickel going forward is a big concern in everybody’s mind,” said Coco Liu, procurement director at BYD, at the Fastmarkets Battery Materials conference. BYD counts Warren Buffet among its investors and is also German automaker Daimler AG’s partner in China.

Analysts had earlier told the conference that the market would be short of nickel if Chinese-led projects in Indonesia fail to deliver.

BYD looks not only for suppliers who can provide high-quality products but also those who have experience in setting up joint ventures covering the whole EV value chain from upstream mining to precursor battery materials and finished products, Liu said.

Joint ventures are “a good way to go forward” and can save costs, she said, adding that BYD prefers to have diversity in its supplier base to reduce risks.

Liu said buying shares in a mine requires a large investment and entails risks, despite a potential rise in demand for raw materials for battery.

“We hope despite the volatility we can have a secure, stable supply with a relatively steady price. Then it will help with our final product sales and development,” she said.

(Reporting by Tom Daly; editing by Christian Schmollinger)

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