JAKARTA (Reuters) - Chinese electric vehicle (EV) battery material firm CNGR Advanced Material Co is boosting output to seize market share despite a bad year for the sector, a company official said on Thursday.
The move comes as the EV battery market is facing a challenging year with high prices of raw material nickel and weaker sales for the EV industry in China, the world's biggest EV battery producer.
"This year is a tough year, a suffering year for the EV market, for the whole supply chain. That's why we want to expand ... so we can lower the cost," CNGR's assistant manager Xu Jie told a nickel conference in Jakarta.
CNGR is planning to almost double its capacity to 126,000 tonnes of EV battery precursor this year from 64,000 tonnes in 2018, and to 160,000 tonnes in 2020, Xu told the Asian Nickel conference.
CNGR's precursor is a mixture of chemicals used in making batteries for the EV sector. CNGR said they were the second biggest ternary precursor last year in China with a 16% market share, behind GEM with 23% market share.
"If we can provide high quality and cheaper products to downstream customers so that they can make huge order, that will keep us surviving," he said.
The number of new energy vehicles (NEVs) sold contracted for the second month in a row in August, after jumping almost 62% last year, due to China's subsidies cut for NEVs, data from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers showed.
NEVs include plug-in hybrids, battery-only electric vehicles and those powered by hydrogen fuel cells.
NEV sales, however, are expected to increase this year, albeit at a slower pace than in 2018, the association said.
"We still think and have a good faith in the nickel trend," Xu said, expecting nickel consumption in the battery sector to increase to 12% of global nickel usage in 2025, from 4% as of last year.
(Reporting by Mai Nguyen; editing by David Evans)