Metair embraces the electric vehicle age

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Listed Metair is embracing disruptive technologies – such as electric vehicles – into its business.

The leading international manufacturer, distributor and retailer of energy-storage solutions and automotive products, last week announced the conversion of its first vehicle from an internal combustion engine to a full electric vehicle.

The electric vehicle was produced in co-operation with PrimeMotors in Romania and filled with in-house lithium ion battery technology.

Theo Loock, the chief executive of Metair, said the electric vehicle conversion showcased the company’s understanding and adaptation of disruptive technology.

In an investor presentation during a site visit to Metair’s Mutlu Akü operations in Turkey last week, Loock said Metair remained well positioned to take advantage of changing technological trends.

He said this applied in particular to Metair’s energy-storage vertical where market conditions and dynamics were subject to technology shifts in the mobility space, particularly the possible accelerated mass introduction of electric vehicles.

Loock said Metair was a visionary group and that two group companies had built two electric vehicles in 2012.

The Metair mindset was to accept the electric vehicle challenge and the possibility of a 100percent electric vehicle production scenario “sometime in the future”, he pointed out.

Loock said this meant Metair had to plan the group’s path to real electric vehicle relevance.

He added that Metair had taken action to enhance its strategy to facilitate a smooth and sustainable transition to an electric vehicle reality, adding that its product range would gain in importance and relevance and was definitely required by electric vehicles, although there was uncertainty about the timing of any mass shift to electric vehicles.

Loock referred to the programme launched by Metair last month to produce lithium ion batteries across its operations in South Africa, Turkey and Romania that leveraged the use of local raw materials and intellectual property.

He said it would result in Metair partnering with universities and industry agencies for production and certification.

In South Africa, Metair will partner with the SA Institute for Advanced Materials Chemistry (SAIAMC) at the University of the Western Cape (UWC), the only pilot scale lithium ion battery cell assembly facility in Africa.

It will result in Metair investing R3million over three years from next month to pilot the prototype lithium production project, improve equipment and sponsor one local post-doctoral fellow to be trained and work at Argonne National Laboratory in the US.

Production will focus on mining cap lamp cells, 12-volt lithium ion automotive batteries, 48-volt lithium ion battery for energy-storage application and solar-panel recharge.

Local partnerships, such as the one with UWC, would provide the platform for Metair to validate its local solutions, Loock added.