Johnson Matthey invests in battery technology

Posted on 20 Oct 2017 and read 516 times
Johnson Matthey invests in battery technologyJohnson Matthey ( — a multi-national speciality chemicals and sustainable-technologies company with its headquarters in Royston — has revealed plans for a £200 million investment in battery technology, as it aims to become a key player in the electric-car market.

The company generates 60% of its £12 billion annual sales from making exhaust catalysts for vehicles, and industry observers have warned that it could be badly hurt by the rise of electric vehicles, which do not need catalytic converters.

The investment strategy — designed to ‘future-proof’ the business will begin in 2018 and last two to three years.

Money will be ploughed into enhancing the technology behind the cathodes that it makes for batteries — and into increasing its production capacity.

Johnson Matthey aims to grab a chunk of a market that it estimates will be worth $30 billion (£22 billion) a year, when 10% of cars are electric.

Chief executive Robert MacLeod said: “We want to be able to produce about 10,000 tonnes of material for cathodes a year, in a market that could be several millions of tonnes. We want to play in the high-quality end of the market, not the commodity end.”

Sites to build new cathode material plants are currently being scouted. The chief executive said these were “more likely to be in the East than the West, as China is the biggest single market for electric vehicles”.

Mr MacLeod said the 200-year-old company expected “break-out growth” from its battery materials unit and was not worried about how the business would handle the proposed bans on new petrol- and diesel-only cars from 2040, as heavy diesel engines for commercial vehicles are currently not in line to be banned.

He added that hybrid engines will still need catalysts, and their more complex nature meant that the catalysts required were likely to be of higher value to Johnson Matthey.

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