China's SVOLT to supply cobalt-free EV batteries to Great Wall

BEIJING, Sept 28 (Reuters) - Chinese electric vehicle (EV) battery maker SVOLT Energy Technology will supply a new, cobalt-free battery to carmaker Great Wall Motor next year, its president told Reuters on Monday.

The battery will use around 75% nickel, 25% manganese and a minor percentage of other metals to boost performance. It differs from current mainstream nickel-cobalt-aluminium (NCA) batteries, nickel-cobalt-manganese (NCM) batteries or lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries.

Companies from Panasonic to CATL are working on lowering content of cobalt in their batteries because of its financial cost and the reputational cost of a metal associated with poor safety conditions at artisanal mining operations.

SVOLT’s President Yang Hongxin told Reuters in an interview that SVOLT is testing cars with the new battery with Great Wall with plans to sell the vehicles from next year.

Yang said the two-year-old company is finalising the location of its first European plant and will open a new research centre in China’s eastern city of Wuxi. It is making EV batteries in Wuxi’s neighbouring city Changzhou.

SVOLT is in talks with investors to raise 2 to 3 billion yuan ($293 million to $440 million) and hopes to apply for a listing on China’s STAR market in 2022, Yang said. He did not elaborate.

SVOLT’s move comes after Tesla Inc outlined a plan to halve the cost of its electric vehicle batteries by recycling batteries and reducing cobalt - one of the most expensive battery materials - to virtually zero.

$1 = 6.8228 Chinese yuan renminbi Reporting by Yilei Sun and Brenda Goh; Editing by Susan Fenton