Britishvolt and Bakrie’s VKTR team up for sustainable EV battery nickel

FILE PHOTO: The logo of an electric car is painted on the road during the opening ceremony of the first Latin American public charging station
FILE PHOTO: The logo of an electric car is painted on the road at Santiago, Chile, April 20, 2011. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado/File Photo

March 28, 2022

By Nick Carey

LONDON (Reuters) – Electric vehicle (EV) battery startup Britishvolt and VKTR, part of Bakrie & Brothers’ auto unit, said on Tuesday they would develop sustainable nickel refining capacity in Indonesia and look into building a battery plant there.

The two companies will form a joint venture called Indovolt BV VKTR, to provide nickel sulphate, a crucial ingredient for high-performance EV batteries, which will eventually be produced using renewable energy in line with Britishvolt’s environmental, social, and governance (ESG) goals.

“I am proud to be helping establish a secure supply of nickel to the UK at a time when raw materials are in the spotlight,” Britishvolt chief executive Orral Nadjari said in a statement.

Indovolt will also look at other countries for potential battery plants. VKTR has been looking for a partner to build a 15 Gigawatt hour (GWh) battery plant in Indonesia.

The deal comes at a time of surging raw materials prices, exacerbated by the invasion of Ukraine by Russia and the international sanctions that have followed it.

Indonesia is a top nickel producer and has harboured ambitions of processing its nickel laterite ore and becoming a global hub for producing and exporting EVs.

Last week, Volkswagen, Huayou Cobalt and Tsingshan Group signed a deal focused on nickel and cobalt raw material production in Indonesia – home to more than 10% of global laterite nickel ore reserves.

State-owned Indonesia Battery Corporation (IBC) and South Korea’s LG are also building a battery plant in Indonesia worth $1.2 billion with 10 GWh of capacity.

Last month, Britishvolt launched a Series C funding round with a starting investment of 40 million pounds ($52.4 million) from shareholder Glencore.

It has also secured UK government backing for a 45 GWh battery plant project in northern England, unlocking 1.7 billion pounds ($2.3 billion) in private funding.

Britishvolt has signed up British carmakers Aston Martin and Lotus as customers.

($1 = 0.7641 pounds)

(Reporting By Nick Carey. Editing by Jane Merriman)