Asahi Kasei said it would construct an integrated plant in Ontario, Canada for the base film manufacturing and coating of Hipore wet process lithium ion battery (LIB) separators and had concluded a basic agreement with Honda Motor while the two parties were studying joint investment.

Honda Motor was expected to announce plans to build a battery electric vehicle (BEV) factory in Canada’s Ontario province. The automaker was understood to have agreed a deal for state aid with federal and provincial governments for the project which was expected to involve investment of close to US$10bn in new vehicle and battery manufacturing facilities to be built near the company’s existing manufacturing operations in Alliston, just outside Toronto.

Asahi Kasei Battery Separator, scheduled to be established in October 2024, would receive funding from the Development Bank of Japan (DBJ) through the issue of preferred shares. Financial support from the federal government of Canada and the provincial government of Ontario was also expected.

Funds for this investment would be provided to ES Materials Canada, the Canadian separator business company, and E-Materials Canada, the local manufacturing company responsible for plant construction and manufacturing, through ES Materials Holdings, the North American separator business company.

Separator business in Asahi Kasei

Asahi Kasei positions its energy storage related business as one of the “10 Growth Gears” expected to drive future growth in its medium term plan for fiscal 2024 which was focused on the theme “Be a Trailblazer”.

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The Hipore wet process LIB separator is core to its energy storage business which is expanding sales in automotive applications in addition to consumer electronics applications.

The decision to construct an LIB separator manufacturing plant in Canada was to meet North American demand for battery separators for electric vehicles and to join North American LIB supply chains being established, in part as an effect of governmental clean energy policies.

Basic agreement with Honda

Asahi Kasei and Honda have reached a basic agreement based on the shared understanding it was essential to establish a supply chain for the stable supply of high performance batteries for the North American EV market which was expected to grow over the medium to long term.

Studies were advancing for the establishment of a joint venture to manufacture Hipore separators for Honda and other vehicle manufacturers in North America.

“To achieve carbon neutrality, Honda is targeting 100% of global sales from EVs and FCVs by 2040,” said Manabu Ozawa, managing executive officer of Honda.

“The separator is an extremely important component that contributes to higher performance and durability of batteries that are essential to EVs.

“Asahi Kasei [has] outstanding technological capability and broad expertise regarding separators. This will allow us to realise highly competitive EVs that can meet future growing demand in North America.”

“The Hipore business will play an important role in Asahi Kasei’s growth over the medium term,” added Hiroyoshi Matsuyama, senior executive officer of Asahi Kasei.

“Capturing market growth in North America will be essential for us. This partnership with Honda, having a rich track record in North America and aggressively electrifying its vehicle lineup, allows us to make a meaningful contribution to improvement of lithium-ion-battery performance in light of anticipated growth in the electric vehicle market and the energy transition.”

Financing from DBJ

Asahi Kasei Battery Separator will receive funding of JPY28bn by issuing preferred shares to DBJ.

Other government support

Asahi Kasei expectd to receive financial support from the federal government of Canada and the provincial government of Ontario through its investment attraction agency Invest Ontario, in addition to support under the September 2023 memorandum of understanding between Canada and Japan concerning battery supply chains.