Elon Musk’s Tesla Model 3 cobalt-free strategy is ushering in an LFP battery movement

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About a year ago, Tesla effectively stunned the electric car industry by announcing that the Made-in-China Model 3 Standard Range Plus will use lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries created by Contemporary Amperex Technology (CATL). It seemed as an unprecedented decision, considering the firm ’s image as a manufacturer of fast, strong, superior cars. 

LFP batteries are more economical to create than NCM (nickel-cobalt-manganese) and NCA (nickel-cobalt-aluminum) batteries, but they usually have reduced energy density. This meant that typically, vehicles outfitted with LFP cells wind up lacking in range and charging. Tesla’s transfer towards LFP could then be regarded as a bet –one that might have led to reverses for its Model 3 in China. 

Tesla Gigafactory Nevada battery cell production line (Credit: Super Factories)
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These days, it seems safe to say that the Silicon Valley-based electrical vehicle maker’therefore gamble has become successful. Recent tweets from Elon Musk even point to this concept that LFP is the way to go to get Tesla’s standard range vehicles. This was especially noteworthy, since cobalt and nickel prices are climbing over the previous decades. With the arrival of more electric cars in the marketplace, securing more long-term distribution for raw materials is extremely important. 

True to form, Tesla’s adoption of LFP batteries was immediately felt by the larger battery market. As mentioned in an Mining.com report, the 55KWh LFP-battery Tesla Model 3 from China seized 5.9percent of the worldwide full electric vehicle market concerning battery power in its next full month of sales. It was despite the Made-in-China Model 3 not being marketed in the United States. 

Based on Adamas Intelligence data, the contraction of Tesla’s LFP-equipped Model 3 just increased from that point. Propelled farther by deliveries to Europe, the LFP-battery China-made sedan comprised 46 percent of all Model 3 revenue in January along with also a remarkable 32% of the battery power in most LFP-equipped cars worldwide. This tendency, Adamas’ data showed, boosted LFP’s overall share in the worldwide battery market concerning ability to 18.5percent in January 2021. 

This is a remarkable milestone for LFP batteries, even believing that it just commanded 1% at the start of this past year and 3% by June 2020. Adamas Intelligence’s Head of Data and Analytics Alla Kolesnikova noticed that the momentum of LFP cells had been especially felt in China. In 2020, the adoption of this cobalt-free batteries saw a resurgence in the marketplace, with the two veteran automakers and younger EV companies embracing the technology. 

“LFP battery capacity set onto streets increased six-fold and we continue to determine cathode manufacturers ramping up output along with a developing list of the automakers in China announcing forthcoming model-versions that will comprise LFP cells. One of the more prominent are Xpeng, Seres, also VW,” Kolesnikova said. 

Roskill, among the world’s first management consultancies and also a crucial player in critical materials supply chain intellect, has determined that LFP cathode and precursor material manufacturing capacity is now up 10-fold in January-February 2021 compared to the same weeks in 2020. A good part of this is the adoption of these batteries by notable EV players such as Tesla, in addition to breakthroughs at the cobalt-free batteries . 

Roskill analyst Kevin Gunan Shang noticed that LFP batteries are now looking to become an superb fit for cell-to-pack manufacturing, which would be embraced by Tesla for its mass-market vehicles such as the Model Y. The analyst also pointed to the promises of Volkswagen-backed Chinese battery maker Gotion, which noticed that its latest LFP battery had achieved a cell-level energy density of 210 Wh/kg, placing it on par with NCM 523. 

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