Still, many suppliers and startups are taking a hard look at graphene and at its potential to improve battery performance. A subsidiary of German supplier Robert Bosch entered an agreement with Graphene Manufacturing Group of Australia in October to become an "engineering, design and construction contractor" for the group as it looks to build a factory to produce the material.
Bosch ranks No. 1 on Automotive News' list of the top global suppliers, with annual parts sales to automakers of $46.52 billion in 2020.
Similarly, Canada's Martinrea International Inc. last year launched a joint venture with Montreal graphene producer NanoXplore Inc. that both companies hope will result in the construction of a major battery plant.
VoltaXplore, as the JV is known, is "making great progress and is on track in meeting its expected milestones," Martinrea CEO Pat D'Eramo said during a March earnings call. "We remain excited about this potential game-changing technology."
VoltaXplore has a small demonstration facility in Montreal, where the company hopes to prove that lithium ion batteries enhanced with graphene can achieve reduced charging times and enhanced range.
Martinrea expects a decision to be made in the middle of this year on whether VoltaXplore will go ahead with the construction of a 10-gigawatt-hour battery plant. If so, it would be built in two phases, with the first opening in mid-2024, followed by an expansion by 2026.
Graphene also holds potential in automotive applications outside of the battery. Martinrea Executive Chairman Rob Wildeboer noted on the earnings call that the company had begun producing "graphene-enhanced brake lines" for customers in 2021, calling it a "technological first" for the industry.
Martinrea ranks No. 73 on the top global suppliers list, with worldwide parts sales to automakers of $2.45 billion in 2020.