BMW strikes five-year lithium deal for electric car batteries

FRANKFURT AM MAIN (AFP) – German high-end car giant BMW said yesterday it had struck a deal with a Chinese supplier covering all its lithium needs for electric vehicle batteries for the coming five years.

The EUR540 million (USD599 million) contract with China’s Ganfeng Lithium will provide “100 per cent of (BMW’s) lithium hydroxide needs” from 2020-24, BMW’s board member in charge of purchasing Andreas Wendt said in a statement.

Faced with tough new emissions regulations in the European Union (EU) from next year and growing public disquiet about climate change, BMW – like other German carmakers – plans a slew of all-electric and hybrid models in the coming years. It is set to offer 25 “electrified” vehicles across its line-up by 2023, with more than half completely battery-powered.

“Our need for raw materials will grow accordingly. By 2025, for lithium alone, we expect to need about seven times the amount we do today,” Wendt said.

Sourcing of metals vital to battery production, like cobalt and lithium, has come under increased public scrutiny as carmakers around the world ramp up their electric vehicle offerings.

BMW said Ganfeng’s lithium is mined in Australia under the “strictest sustainability standards”.

Meanwhile, from next year, it will source the cobalt for its batteries directly from mines in Australia and Morocco.