Komatsu acquiring battery manufacturer ABS with first modules set for mining equipment

Komatsu Ltd through its wholly owned subsidiary in the US, Komatsu America Corp, has agreed to acquire American Battery Solutions, Inc (ABS), a battery manufacturer headquartered in Detroit, Michigan. Komatsu is planning to close the acquisition on December 1, 2023, on the condition that all necessary procedures for the closing are completed. The immediate impact on Komatsu’s consolidated business results is estimated to be minimal.

Komatsu had previously announced a battery cooperation with Proterra Inc in October 2021 for its underground mining equipment – Proterra then entered bankruptcy in August 2023 and was subsequently acquired by Volvo Group in November 2023. Komatsu told IM that its partnership with Proterra remains intact, and that they are continuing to move forward with their joint projects.

ABS develops and manufactures a wide variety of heavy-duty and industrial battery packs, using lithium-ion batteries for commercial vehicles, transit buses and on- and off-road vehicles. The company provides both standard and custom battery systems optimised to each customer’s needs. ABS’ technology, combined with the advanced product development knowledge and expertise of its people, enables the company to develop and manufacture battery packs designed to deliver superior performance and product life, and to enhance safety.

ABS’ PROLIANCE Intelligent Battery Series™ are a family of high-voltage battery packs for light, medium and heavy duty electric vehicle applications (both commercial and industrial). It says these off-the-shelf standardised packs are designed for rigorous use, reliability and longevity but that custom solutions are also available for those with unique application needs, with ABS saying it is a: “one stop shop for customised battery systems, advanced testing and manufacturing capabilities.”

Current high voltage ABS offerings include the 52 KWh PROLIANCE T350V-50 lithium-ion battery pack and 100 KWh PROLIANCE T700V-100 battery pack. ABS states on the former: “T350-50 electric vehicle battery packs are designed for scalability to meet your exact energy needs. In addition, they feature integrated liquid cooling and state-of-the-art battery management systems, including ASIL-C functional safety.” Its 700V high-voltage lithium-ion battery packs “are designed for scalability and can be connected up to ten in parallel to meet a variety of energy demands. All this with no mid-cycle replacements needed, offering excellent total cost of ownership for fleet users.”

The acquisition of ABS will enable Komatsu to develop and produce its own battery operated construction and mining equipment, through the integration of ABS’ battery technology with Komatsu’s knowledge and network. The first equipment with ABS’ batteries produced will be used to power mining equipment in North and South America, where demand for electrification has been increasing. In the future, Komatsu will aim to expand the use of batteries in construction equipment and to establish a global supply system. Komatsu will continue to support ABS’ battery business to further develop the electrification business post-acquisition. Komatsu would not specify to IM at this stage if the initial mining deployments related to surface or underground mining equipment. The company agreed that installation in one of its EVX mining trucks was an option, but would not officially confirm this at this stage.

ABS will operate as a stand-alone business entity within Komatsu and will continue its growth plans by executing on its current and prospective customer programs in the commercial vehicle segments. The mining and construction opportunities provided through Komatsu will enable ABS to position itself as one of the world’s leading providers of battery systems in both on-highway and off-highway markets.

Komatsu has positioned FY2023 as the first year for the introduction of electric construction equipment to the market, and the acquisition of ABS it says will become the milestone in the acceleration of its electrification activities. The news comes less than a week after Komatsu announced a new 13 ton class PC138E-11 electric excavator with a lithium-ion battery. By equipping a high-capacity lithium-ion battery and integrating a cooling system for the battery and electric components for this new machine, Komatsu has achieved long operation time while reducing the rear-end swing radius.

Through the acquisition, Komatsu says it will accelerate the development of battery-powered electric vehicles by utilising ABS’ battery-related technology, along with other initiatives Komatsu is pursuing with its partners, to further contribute to the electrification of construction and mining equipment and the realisation of a decarbonised society. These efforts will help Komatsu achieve its management target of 50% reduction of CO2 emissions from the use of its products by 2030 (compared to 2010 levels) as well as the company’s challenge target of achieving its carbon neutrality by 2050. So far, Komatsu says it has reduced emissions from its production bases by 37%, emissions from its machines by 19% and increased its rate of renewable energy use by 14%.

As part of its growth strategy for the mid-term management plan ‘DANTOTSU Value – Together, to ‘The Next’ for sustainable growth,’ Komatsu is working to establish safe, highly productive, smart, and clean workplaces of the future together with its customers and to develop and launch electric equipment so as to achieve carbon neutrality. Through this DANTOTSU Value (which means customer value creation that generates a positive cycle of improvement of earnings and ESG resolutions), Komatsu says it will create new values for stepping forward to the next stage of future workplaces and passing on the sustainable future to the next generation.