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The Battery Battle - Can Battery Manufacturers Keep Up With Automaker Demands?

By: Newsfile

Point Roberts, Washington and Delta, British Columbia--(Newsfile Corp. - August 23, 2021) -, a leading investor news resource covering battery and energy stocks releases a sector snapshot on the growth and advancement within the battery sector, featuring NEO Battery Materials Ltd. (TSXV: NBM) (OTC Pink: NBMFF), a Vancouver-based resource company focused on battery metals and materials. The Company intends to become an integrated silicon producer and anode materials supplier to the electric vehicle industry.

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As the demand for better and more efficient batteries continues to grow, we are seeing a real need for innovation which comes with risks as automakers race to get more vehicles onto the market as soon as possible.

A recent CNBC article said, "Automakers are spending billions of dollars to transition to cleaner and greener battery-powered vehicles, but the new technology has come with an even steeper cost: Reputation-damaging vehicle fires, recalls, sudden power loss and problems getting some of the cars started."

"Anytime you go into a new area of technology, there's more to be learned than there is that you know," Doug Betts, President of J.D. Power's automotive division told CNBC. "There are risks, and there are things to be learned." The learning curve with batteries is steep for traditional automakers, and battery technology remains challenging even for Tesla, which has faced similar issues.

Silicon anodes are recognized as the most promising material to improve the specific capacity, or the run-time, of the battery as it may store up to 10 times more lithium-ions than traditional graphite anode materials. However, the natural volume expansion problem of silicon is hindering the widespread adoption. The industry is hence accelerating the development of high-performance silicon anodes that can be scaled through low-cost production.

NEO Battery Materials Ltd. (TSXV: NBM) (OTC Pink: NBMFF) may have a solution to some of these battery and silicon issues, having announced that the first prototype of silicon (Si) anode active materials has been successfully produced, and samples have been sent to NDA partners for full cell evaluation and electrochemical characterization.

Spencer Huh, President and CEO of NEO, commented, "The first working set of NEO's proprietary silicon anode materials has been manufactured through our unique process. Our prototype will be utilized by third-party partners for evaluating the performance and efficacy of NEO's Si anodes in each respective party's cell system and environment. NEO will complete due diligence during and after testing to refine and strengthen the prototype for commercialization."

Dr. J. H. Park, Director and Chief Scientific Advisor, said, "The Si anode prototype for sample testing is based on low-cost raw materials and was manufactured through our one-pot, cost-effective process. NEO's ability of economically manufacturing silicon anode materials is a substantial point of differentiation from existing companies, and we expect this development to act as a catalyst to accelerate the commercialization of our Si anode active materials."

From the news: As per the news release dated August 12, 2021, NEO has completed signing an NDA and is under discussion for potential synergies and opportunities regarding its Si anode nano coating technology. In this week, NEO has initiated two new NDAs with global top-tier battery material producers in China and South Korea for NEO's innovations with silicon. Updates and progress on discussions and developments will be soon provided.

According to NEO Battery Materials, "Silicon effectively increases the energy capacity of LiB and allows wider application and use in electrical vehicles at low costs."

Tesla Inc., looking to maintain its position in the EV market recently entered into a deal with BHP for nickel supply for batteries. BHP will supply Tesla Inc. with nickel from its Nickel West asset in Western Australia, one of the most sustainable and lowest carbon emission nickel producers in the world.

From the news: Tesla Inc. is the world's largest manufacturer of electric vehicles and battery storage systems with a mission to accelerate the transition to sustainable energy, and nickel is a key metal used to manufacture Tesla Inc.'s battery technology.

BHP Chief Commercial Officer, Vandita Pant, said: "Demand for nickel in batteries is estimated to grow by over 500 per cent over the next decade, in large part to support the world's rising demand for electric vehicles."

"We are delighted to sign this agreement with Tesla Inc., and to collaborate with them on ways to make the battery supply chain more sustainable through our shared focus on technology and innovation."

From the news: In addition to the supply agreement, BHP and Tesla Inc. will collaborate on ways to make the battery supply chain more sustainable, with a focus on end-to-end raw material traceability using blockchain; technical exchange for battery raw materials production; and promotion of the importance of sustainability in the resources sector, including identifying partners who are most aligned with BHP and Tesla Inc.'s principles and battery value chains.

Most recently, GM said it would spend $800 million on a recall of its Chevrolet Bolt EV following several reported fires due to two "rare manufacturing defects" in the lithium-ion battery cells in the vehicle's battery pack.

This follows General Motor Company's recent announcement with AT&T to bring 5G cellular connectivity to millions of GM vehicles coming off the assembly line over the next decade in the United States. GM and AT&T are working together to set the benchmark for automotive connectivity with a fifth generation cellular network architecture to meet the needs of an all-electric and autonomous future.

From the news: GM and AT&T are collaborating to build a high performance 5G core network that delivers a new standard. Network enhancements will include:

  • Improved roadway-centric coverage
  • Faster music and video downloads with higher quality
  • Faster, more reliable, and secure over-the-air software updates
  • Faster navigation, mapping, and voice services

Continued: 5G connectivity will first be available in select model year 2024 vehicles. Additionally, through GM's fifth generation network, current 4G LTE-equipped model year 2019 and newer vehicles will experience faster connectivity speeds and many of the same performance benefits of future 5G-equipped vehicles. Current Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac owners in the U.S. with 4G LTE-capable model year 2019 and newer vehicles will easily migrate to the new network infrastructure once available.

This rollout is part of GM and AT&T's broad strategy to launch the world's largest fleet of 5G-enabled vehicles and the culmination of a two-year collaboration, including test-driving connected vehicles in GM's 5G proving grounds in Milford, Michigan.

AT&T has the nation's most reliable 5G network, 1 covering more than 250 million people across the country. From 2016 to 2020, AT&T invested more than $110 billion in its wireless and wireline networks, including capital investments and acquisitions of wireless spectrum and operations.

GM offers OnStar and Connected Services2 to more than 16 million customers in the U.S. and Canada. Since the launch of 4G LTE in 2014, GM owners have used more than 171 million gigabytes of data across its brands, which is equivalent to nearly 5.7 billion hours of music streamed or more than 716 million hours of streaming video.

To support GM's rapid innovation and delivery of next generation connected vehicle solutions, AT&T and Microsoft are bringing together the speed and reliability of AT&T's 5G network with Microsoft's scalable and secure cloud services.

The 4G LTE and 5G network improvements will be foundational for the future of GM's growing over-the-air update strategy, an element of the automaker's overall innovation and growth plan. With more advanced features, robust software and faster download speeds, more data is accessible to provide a more convenient customer experience. GM's fifth generation network will also provide a strong foundation as the company advances its technology, such as Super Cruise and its Vehicle Intelligence Platform.

"Together with AT&T, we've brought unprecedented experiences to the daily commute, family road trips and everything in between," said Santiago Chamorro, GM Vice President of Global Connected Services. "As an in-vehicle connectivity leader, this rollout demonstrates our commitment to growth through software-enabled services and reimagining every customer touchpoint by enabling faster connectivity speeds to power in-vehicle voice-enabled services, navigation, and apps that our customers have grown to love."

Another battery maker, Enovix Corporation, a leader in the design and manufacture of next generation 3D Silicon™ Lithium-ion batteries, recently announced that it has achieved a key manufacturing facility milestone, completing equipment installation of its first U.S.-based advanced battery production line. Enovix also announced it signed a Master Purchase Agreement and a Cooperation Agreement with a California-based technology leader focused initially on the wearable device space. Based on the terms of the agreements, Enovix will receive a manufacturing capacity reservation fee and pre-payments totaling $3.5 million over the next 12 months. The total agreements are valued at up to $20 million with commercialization currently scheduled to begin in 2025.

"Building the Enovix factory in the US was a strategic choice to advance American innovation and build an ecosystem between R&D, manufacturing and our innovative customer base," said Harrold Rust, President and Chief Executive Officer of Enovix. "Completing the equipment installation puts us one step closer to our planned start of production and customer deliveries in 2022."

From the news: The Enovix factory in Fremont, California, will be the first facility in the world to be capable of volume production of advanced lithium-ion batteries with a 100% active silicon anode using its 3D cell architecture. Once the factory is fully scaled, Enovix plans to produce 45 million batteries a year.

The customer order is part of a larger strategic agreement in which the two companies will collaborate over the next decade on multiple applications for Enovix batteries. Platforms in this space require greater energy density and capacity in a small form factor. The Enovix battery provides up to 110% higher energy density than the standard lithium-ion battery in mobile devices today. Enovix has been issued 94 patents with more than 63 pending and is uniquely positioned to take advantage of the increasing power requirements of emerging technologies coming to market in wearable platforms.

"We are thrilled to convert this design win into a comprehensive agreement that validates our business model and guarantees access to our breakthrough batteries," said Cam Dales, General Manager and Chief Commercial Officer. "This is also the start of customer engagements moving beyond technology evaluation as we scale production capacity."

Scale and efficiency seems to be at the forefront of the battery discussion and whichever companies are able to meet these requirements first may have a significant advantage in the future of this aggressive growth industry.

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