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Johnson Matthey ends battery research


British chemical company Johnson Matthey has dropped out of the electric battery market after the firm decided they had fallen too far behind competitors.

The decision to end the eLNO programme, means leaving behind years of work attempting to solve the problem of how to create practical electric car batteries at scale. It’s an issue which has dogged the electric car industry since its inception, with the ability to create batteries with good storage capabilities vital for sustainable cars to be widely adopted.

Robert MacLeod, Chief Executive at Johnson Matthey, said: “While the testing of our eLNO battery materials with customers is going well, the marketplace is rapidly evolving with increasing commoditisation and lower returns. We have concluded that we will not achieve the returns necessary to justify further investment.”

“This decision will allow us to accelerate our investment and focus on more attractive growth areas, especially where we have leadership positions such as in hydrogen technologies, circularity and the decarbonisation of the chemicals value chain.”

To make matters worse, Macleod is also to leave the company after 8 years, resulting in a 17% share drop. Macleod is to be replaced in March 2022 by Liam Condon, who is currently a Member of the Board of Management at Bayer AG and President of the Crop Science Division.

The choice to exit the market came just a couple of months after Johnson Matthey announced plans to build a second factory in Europe after construction had already begun on a £550m factory back in 2020. Such a short period of time between planning to open a second factory and cancelling the project begs the question of what happened in those few months that resulted in such a drastic U-turn.

Despite the obvious disappointment and issues associated with the decision, Johnson Matthey is making headway in other key areas. They will now turn their focus towards hydrogen technologies and the decarbonisation of the chemicals value chain. However, there will be some challenging questions over the next few months over how so much investment in this emerging market could result in a complete withdrawal.

Danny Lord
Danny Lord

Danny is our Editor-in-Chief, and has been writing news and guides for comparison sites for the last five years.

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