Content - Swiss Leclanché survives in lithium-ion battery market

  • October 19, 2018

Swiss Leclanché survives in lithium-ion battery market

Tokyo (SCCIJ) – The world market for lithium-ion batteries is controlled almost completely by Japanese, Korean and Chinese companies. Last year, Panasonic was the world’s largest producer of cells due to its participation in the so-called gigafactory of Tesla in the U.S. China’s CATL is catching up fast and plans to build its first factory in Europe. Despite this Asian dominance, Leclanché from Yverdon-les-Bains, the eldest and biggest producer of lithium-ion batteries in Switzerland, is still in business. In fact, it is currently in the successful process of mastering earlier financial distress and expanding into new markets and fields.

Leclanché ion-lithium technology

One century of experience

Boasting over a century of experience in battery research and manufacturing, Leclanché projects itself to be well placed to tackle the challenges of the transition to a carbon-free society. According to its own marketing, as the only European manufacturer of both power and energy lithium-ion battery cells, Leclanché provides the most effective energy storage solutions for electric vehicles, home, grid and microgrid applications. 

The recent business figures are encouraging: Leclanché’s revenues have more than doubled year-on-year to CHF 22.3 million from CHF 10.6 million in the six months to 30 June 2018, in line with the company’s previously stated estimate of doubling revenues for the year 2018. Excluding exceptional items, EBITDA losses for the period have reduced on a like-for-like basis as a percentage of revenues. Leclanché expects the year-end EBITDA loss to reduce as a percentage of revenue. 

Most of the large projects under construction should be completed or close to be completed by the end of the year and will contribute to the improvement of the company’s year-end profitability. In the same period, the related inventories increased from CHF 12.3 million to CHF 23.1 million reflecting the growth in demand for Leclanché’s energy storage solutions and the scale of the projects under construction. 

Lithium-ion batteries for India

Among its new large ventures is the expansion into India. In June, Exide Industries, India’s largest manufacturer of batteries, and Leclanché announced the launch of a new joint venture to build lithium-ion batteries in India. The JV’s production plant will be based in Gujarat. Exide Industries, which are committed to setting up large-scale manufacturing of lithium-ion batteries, will be the majority shareholder and Leclanché will be the strategic minority shareholder of the JV.  

A module and battery pack assembly line is expected to be operational by the second quarter of 2019 and a lithium-ion cell production plant is expected to be in operation by mid 2020. In the intervening period, cells will be sourced from Leclanché’s plant in Germany. The JV will focus on e-transport, on stationary energy storage systems and specialty storage markets. In e-transport, the target segment is fleet vehicles including e-buses, e-wheelers and e-rickshaws. 

Simplified debt structure

The financial future of Leclanché is also assured. In July, Leclanché́ agreed with certain of its investors, including its largest shareholder FEFAM, to restructure and simplify its debt structure.

FEFAM has purchased certain outstanding debt from third party investors thereby simplifying Leclanché's lender base and agreed to postpone the maturity of the purchased debt to 31 March 2020.

This follows FEFAM’s existing plans to convert CH 24 million of debt owed by Leclanché to FEFAM into equity in order to help strengthen the balance sheet of the company. 

About Leclanché

Headquartered in Switzerland, Leclanché designs, develops and manufactures customized energy storage solutions for electricity generation and transmission, mass transportation, heavy industrial machines and specialty battery systems. Through recent acquisitions the company has positioned itself as a fully vertically integrated battery energy storage solution provider.

It offers multi-technology lithium-ion battery systems dimensioned to meet specific application needs within a given operating environment, depending on whether the customers require high energy density or high cycle stability and fast charging, or a combination of both.


Text: SCCIJ with material of Leclanché; Photo: Leclanché

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