Ideanomics to invest in battery start-up InoBat

Battery manufacturing start-up InoBat Auto has been valued at the mid-hundreds of millions of pounds after the latest investment from US electric vehicle group Ideanomics.

The injection by the New York-listed company follows investments from miner Rio Tinto and Indian battery group Amara Raja late last year, and comes as backers pour money into these start-ups, which are expected to dominate the car industry as it switches to electric power.

The two sides have not disclosed financial terms, but the investment values InoBat at the mid-level hundreds of millions of pounds, according to people familiar with the matter.

NorthVolt, which became the first European group to produce its own cells late last year, has attracted investment from Volkswagen, BMW and Volvo, valuing the group at $12bn.

Other new European businesses, including the UK’s BritishVolt, are also seeking investment to help them open plants. Europe’s car bosses have warned of the need for homegrown battery makers to ensure the region does not cede technology leadership to China or Tesla as the industry shifts increasingly towards electric vehicles.

But while the start-ups are several years from full production, established battery makers, predominantly from Asia, are already preparing to open a new wave of production plants in Europe.

LG Chem and CATL are due to open sites in Poland and Germany this year, and SK Innovation is due to expand its existing Hungarian facility.

InoBat will use the funding from Ideanomics to complete its research centre and open its first pilot plant in Slovakia, already under construction, by the end of this year.

The company, which expects to target the premium end of the electric vehicle market, aims to open several full-scale factories globally by 2024.

Ideanomics, which is listed on the Nasdaq, invests in electric vehicle technologies and has stakes in electric motorbike group Energica and Chinese start-up Silk EV, as well as owning the wireless charging group Wave.

The company will work with InoBat to “develop and commercialise both standard and tailor-made battery packs for the US market”, as well as providing batteries for its own businesses once they begin production, it said on Tuesday.

Robin Mackie, Ideanomics’ head of automotive, said: “With Rio Tinto and Amara Raja’s recent strategic investments and relationships in Europe and Asia, we believe that InoBat will have access to the materials and rare-earth metals necessary to produce batteries at scale and help to minimise supply chain risks across our Ideanomics Mobility operating companies.”

Marian Bocek, InoBat’s chief executive, said the partnership with Ideanomics “allows us to expand our battery technology for both on and off-road commercial EVs while increasing our capacity and future opportunities to support the US e-mobility market”.

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