SINGAPORE (Apr 2): Tesla and BYD Co are synonymous with electric vehicles (EVs). Now, the big German companies are muscling in. BMW announced that it spent €10.8 billion ($17.5 billion) on R&D and capital expenditure in 2017, up 20% y-o-y. In March, Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported that BMW was close to signing a 10-year supply contract for lithium and cobalt. Cobalt, manganese and nickel are some of the raw materials used for lithium-ion EV batteries. BMW has also tied up with a London-based start-up to use transaction-recording technology blockchain to prove that batteries for its EVs will contain only clean cobalt.

Volkswagen announced it will invest US$25 billion in battery supplies to boost its EV business, and will work with LG Chem, Samsung SDI and Chinese battery maker Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. VW is also making plans to secure long-term supply contracts of cobalt and other raw materials. Elsewhere, Panasonic has started mass-producing hybrid car batteries. In February, Apple was reported to be buying cobalt directly from miners. Global news flows certainly point to a worldwide scramble to secure raw materials for EVs as governments implement regulations to phase out diesel vehicles.

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