Ultracharge commercialises lithium-ion batteries
There is no shortage of wanna-be lithium explorers out there and the lithium mining and battery chemical manufacturing space is also about to get crowded.
Going further downstream, the lithium-ion battery parts and processing technology market is also starting to pad out, but curiously it seems to be taking forever for ASX focused companies to wise up to the opportunity of manufacturing complete lithium-ion batteries.
There is really only one ASX listed company that appears to have both recognized and grasped this opportunity – the Israeli based, but Perth listed, Ultracharge.
Ultracharge put out an announcement this week that looks to be a massive step change for the small cap lithium-ion battery technologist.
The company has signed a deal with a leading Israeli electric scooter manufacturer by the name of Blitz Electric Motors to supply complete lithium ion batteries that will make use of Ultracharge’s inner battery cathode technology.
The announcement effectively catapults Ultracharge out of the ranks of battery parts technologist and into the ranks of complete lithium-ion battery manufacturer.
Incredibly, Ultracharge says it will be the only ASX listed company able to claim complete lithium-ion battery manufacturer status once the deal with Blitz has been consummated.
Ultracharge has signed a conditional purchase agreement with Blitz to provide it with high voltage lithium-ion batteries for the company’s two-wheel electric scooters.
The deal will see Ultracharge design, develop and manufacture two types of lithium-ion “pouch-cell batteries” that will be fully compatible with Blitz’s range of electric scooters.
Whilst Ultracharge is essentially a lithium-ion battery parts technologist, the deal will see it became a battery manufacturer with the added market advantage of manufacturing batteries that make use of its unique “Lithium, Nickel, Manganese Oxide” or “LNMO” battery cathode technology.
Ultracharge says its LNMO battery cathodes have a number of advantages that are perfect for the electric scooter market and also for other emerging markets.
According to the company, its LMNO cathodes can produce batteries that are up to 20% more powerful than existing batteries, delivering more toque and horsepower to the back wheel, creating the possibility of carrying less battery cells – and therefore less weight- to power each vehicle.
Perhaps more importantly however – and particularly in the electric scooter market - Ultracharge says its batteries could potentially double the range of Blitz’s scooters from 100km to 200km, something that will most likely appeal to almost every electric scooter manufacturer out there.
Blitz has been smart however, locking up Ultracharge’s LMNO batteries exclusively – but only for 18 months and only if Blitz buys US$4m worth of batteries in the next 12 months.
The deal effectively gives Blitz a “first to market” advantage but doesn’t restrict Ultracharge from entering the global electric scooter battery market in the medium term.
Unlike most other lithium-ion battery manufacturers, Ultracharge has worked out how to build its batteries without using cobalt. Cobalt is in crazy demand right now and is currently selling for over US$90,000 a tonne.
The company says it can build its batteries for possibly half the cost of traditional lithium-ion batteries, largely because it does not use expensive cobalt.
All of which leads to Ultracharge laying claim to a cheaper, longer lasting and more powerful battery, the nectar of the gods in the scooter world, particularly in places like the sub-continent and China that are overrun with electric scooters.
Scale certainly doesn’t appear to be a problem for Ultracharge.
The Blitz deal is especially significant, according to company management, because of the scooter manufacturer’s wide-ranging geographical operations and its impressive client list. Blitz operates across Europe, India, Argentina and Turkey. It also counts global brands such as Macdonald’s and Pizza Hut amongst its customer list.
Ultracharge has been contracted to provide a forecasted 28,000 batteries for Blitz over the next 3 years.
UltraCharge CEO Kobi Ben-Shabat said: “This contract with Blitz Electric Motors is another significant milestone for our cobalt-free, lithium-ion battery solution and clearly demonstrates UltraCharge’s ability to customise solutions for specific end-user requirements.”
“As the only ASX-listed company and amongst only a handful of pure lithium ion battery listed companies in the world with the ability to produce a lithium-ion battery, we are well-placed to capitalise on the significant global market opportunities and we look forward to strengthening our position as the market leaders in the lithium-ion battery market.”
Blitz Electric Motor Ltd Founder and CEO Raphael Moszynski said: ““Using Ultracharge’s revolutionary, cobalt-free, lithium-ion battery offering is closely aligned to Blitz Motors’ core objective to help our environment, and greatly lower the cost while increasing performance of electric scooters for our customers.”
Ultracharge also has a lithium-ion battery “anode” technology first developed at the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, allows a lithium-ion battery to charge faster, hold its charge for longer and cycle up and down more times before it runs out of life.
It replaces the typical graphite anode, found in most lithium-ion batteries, with a proprietary titanium dioxide nanotube gel technology that, according to the company, can charge up to 20 times faster than regular lithium-ion batteries.
Additionally, Ultracharge is also developing its own lithium-ion battery “electrolyte” solution, which can increase battery lifespan and performance in both high and low temperature climates.
With all the hype around lithium, it was only a matter of time before an ASX listed company broke from the pack and started making actual lithium-ion batteries and Ultracharge looks to be well ahead of the play in this most lucrative of markets.
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