Lithium Werks to spend $2 billion manufacturing power packs

Move Over, Tesla. This Little Dutch Company Makes Big Batteries

Lithium Werks plans to spend $2 billion manufacturing power packs for bulkier machines.

Article in Bloomberg Businessweek by Anna Hirtenstein 9/13/18

Koolen, an early investor in Uber Technologies Inc.and BV, serving at the latter as chief executive officer for three years, is betting he can make a fortune producing batteries for everything from forklifts to ore haulers.

“We want to work on the electrification of everything that isn’t cars and consumer electronics,” he says. “Those markets are already saturated, and we see a big opportunity beyond them.”

A Lithium Werks employee assembles a battery pack.


Power packs for bulky machines can have more heft than those for cars or devices such as cellphones or tablets, which put put a premium on being small and light. Another potential market is massive batteries to help plug gaps in output from wind and solar plants—a job currently done by conventional power plants. Lithium Werks has bought three startups with specializations ranging from chemical cells to systems that manage a battery’s output, and Koolen plans to set up production plants around the world that combine the expertise of his stable of companies. This year he opened his first factory, near Shanghai, and he’s planning two more in 2019—one in Mexico and a second in China.

Koolen is putting $41 million of his own money into the venture and expects to raise an additional $300 million by yearend from investors and Oost NL, a development agency in the Netherlands. By 2025, Koolen plans to have 10 plants, at a total cost of $2 billion, each with output of 1 gigawatt hour a year, enough for 20,000 electric cars. Bloomberg New Energy Finance predicts demand for batteries will climb to almost 1,800 GWh by 2030, from about 120 this year. While 85 percent of that will go into cars, there’s plenty of money to be made in the industry’s niches, says Jeff McDermott, managing partner of Greentech Capital Advisors LLC, a New York investment bank focused on cleaner energy. “In a market of tens of billions of dollars, having 5 or 10 percent is still meaningful,” he says.

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