Possible upgrades with NCM 712 battery cells from LG Chem (updated)

LG Chem pouch battery cell
LG Chem pouch battery cell

Years ago LG Chem decided that for pouch battery cells it would first replace NCM 622 with NCM 712 cathodes before moving to NCMA in 2022, while reserving the NCM 811 cathode to cylindrical battery cells.

We’re always talking about NCM 811 cathodes and easily forget that NCM 712 battery cells arrived quietly and are already powering electric cars in Europe.

 

Battery cell chemistries used by LG Chem

 

The new generation Renault ZOE was the first electric car in Europe to get the NCM 712 battery cells from LG Chem, but soon others will follow.

By observing what changed in the Renault ZOE, we can estimate possible changes in other electric cars that still use the same LGX E63 battery cells of the old generation Renault ZOE.

 

Let’s start by observing the changes in the Renault ZOE.

 

Renault ZOE

New generation Renault ZOE

 

Renault ZOE (old ZE 40 battery)

  • Total battery capacity: 44,1 kWh
  • Usable battery capacity: 41 kWh
  • Battery pack weight: 305 kg
  • Gravimetric energy density at battery pack level: 145 Wh/kg
  • Cells: 192 (96s2p)
  • Chemistry: NCM 622
  • Manufacturer: LG Chem
  • WLTP range: 317 km (197 miles)

 

Renault ZOE (new ZE 50 battery)

  • Total battery capacity: 55 kWh (estimation)
  • Usable battery capacity: 52 kWh
  • Battery pack weight: 326 kg
  • Gravimetric energy density at battery pack level: 169 Wh/kg
  • Cells: 192 (96s2p)
  • Chemistry: NCM 712
  • Manufacturer: LG Chem
  • WLTP range: 395 km (245 miles)

The battery capacity increased around 11 kWh, while the weight increased by 21 kg.

 

 

Now let’s estimate possible upgrades for electric cars that still use the same LG E63 battery cells of the old generation Renault ZOE, namely the very popular Hyundai IONIQ Electric and Hyundai Kona Electric.

 

Hyundai IONIQ Electric

New Hyundai IONIQ Electric

 

Current battery with NCM 622 cells

  • Total battery capacity: 40,4 kWh (estimation)
  • Usable battery capacity: 38,3 kWh
  • Battery weight: 359 kg (without battery heater) and 363 kg (with battery heater)
  • Battery energy density: 112,4 Wh/kg (without battery heater) and 111,2 Wh/kg (with battery heater)
  • Cells: 176 (88s2p)
  • Chemistry: NCM 622
  • Manufacturer: LG Chem
  • WLTP range: 311 km (193 miles)

 

Possible battery with NCM 712 cells

  • Total battery capacity: 50,4 kWh (estimation)
  • Usable battery capacity: 48 kWh
  • Battery weight: 378 kg (without battery heater) and 382 kg (with battery heater)
  • Battery energy density: 133 Wh/kg (without battery heater) and 132 Wh/kg (with battery heater)
  • Cells: 176 (88s2p)
  • Chemistry: NCM 712
  • Manufacturer: LG Chem
  • WLTP range: 392 km (244 miles)

The battery capacity would increase around 10 kWh, while the weight would increase by 19 kg.

 

 

Hyundai Kona Electric

Hyundai Kona Electric side-front-rear view

 

Current Long range version with NCM 622 cells

  • Total battery capacity: 67,5 kWh (estimation)
  • Usable battery capacity: 64 kWh
  • Battery weight: 452 kg
  • Battery energy density: 149 Wh/kg
  • Cells: 294 (98s3p)
  • Chemistry: NCM 622
  • Manufacturer: LG Chem
  • WLTP range: 484 km (301 miles)

 

Possible Long range version with NCM 712 cells

  • Total battery capacity: 84 kWh
  • Usable battery capacity: 80 kWh
  • Battery weight: 484 kg
  • Battery energy density: 174 Wh/kg
  • Cells: 294 (98s3p)
  • Chemistry: NCM 712
  • Manufacturer: LG Chem
  • WLTP range: 605 km (376 miles)

The battery capacity would increase around 16,5 kWh, while the weight would increase by 32 kg.

 

Here is where I have my doubts as it was briefly discussed in the comment section of the previous article.

Recently Hyundai announced that the European-made Kona Electric gets a WLTP range increase from 449 to 484 km. Hyundai explains this 8 % range increase with new more efficient tires, but new tires alone can’t explain all this difference in range and efficiency, 2-3 % maybe, but not 8 %.

 

Possible explanation number 1

In 2018 Hyundai had to downgrade the WLTP range of the Kona Electric from 470 to 449 km (292 to 279 miles). Therefore, this new increase of WLTP range might be in part explained by new tires, but most of it is probably due to a readjustment to the previous downgrade calculations and not real efficiency gains.

If Hyundai never had to downgrade the previous WLTP range, now an increase of range from 470 to 484 km would represent only 3 % and this could be explained solely by the new tires.

 

Possible explanation number 2

Another possible explanation is that the European-manufactured Hyundai Kona Electric got better efficiency and range, not only from more efficient tires, but also from a lighter battery pack made with NCM 712 battery cells. If this is the case, it means that Hyundai decided to use the new more energy-dense NCM 712 battery cells not to increase the battery capacity, but instead reduce the weight, size and cost of the battery pack. This weight reduction would give the Hyundai Kona Electric more range, better efficiency, better acceleration, better stopping distance and lower production costs.

I think that the explanation number 1 is more plausible and the European-made Hyundai Kona Electric still uses NCM 622 battery cells. However, If you know the correct answer let us know in the comment section, this one needs good detective work.

 

Update…

After reading some comments and do the math, I’m now convinced that the 2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV is already using NCM 712 battery cells and that Hyundai could use the same cells in the Kona Electric to keep the current 64 kWh usable battery capacity, while reducing weight, size and cost of the battery pack.

Let’s see what GM managed to do with the Chevrolet Bolt EV.

 

Chevrolet Bolt EV and Opel Ampera-e

2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV

 

Old generation

  • Total battery capacity: 62,2 kWh
  • Usable battery capacity: 58 kWh (variable)
  • Battery weight: 435 kg
  • Battery energy density: 143 Wh/kg
  • Cells: 288 (96s3p)
  • Chemistry: NCM 622
  • Manufacturer: LG Chem
  • EPA range: 383 km (238 miles)

 

New 2020 generation

  • Total battery capacity: 68 kWh
  • Usable battery capacity: 64 kWh (variable)
  • Battery weight: 430 kg
  • Battery energy density: 158 Wh/kg
  • Cells: 288 (96s3p)
  • Chemistry: NCM 712 (not confirmed)
  • Manufacturer: LG Chem
  • EPA range: 417 km (259 miles)

 

The battery capacity advertised by Chevrolet is neither total nor usable, is something in between…

Regarding the new 2020 generation, it is likely that there was a change to NCM 712 battery cells and although the increase in energy density seems minimal, there is an explanation. The 2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV now has the “cold weather battery pack” that according to GM allows 150 % faster DC charging in cold weather.

This “cold weather battery pack” means better insulation and heating of the battery but is likely to result in extra weight. Explaining why the energy density of the battery pack only increased from 143 to 158 Wh/kg, while in the Renault ZOE, the upgrade to NCM 712 battery cells resulted in an energy density increase from 145 to 169 Wh/kg.

 

If the European-made Hyundai Kona Electric does in fact already have NCM 712 battery cells it also got its weight reduced, I need to check this out.

 

Anyway, as I see it the Hyundai Kona Electric doesn’t need more range than it currently has, for most people price is still the problem, not range. The more energy-dense NCM 712 battery cells should be used to make a lighter, smaller and cheaper battery pack.

As for the Hyundai IONIQ Electric I think that it definitely needs the battery capacity upgrade, not only to basically match the WLTP range of the popular new Renault ZOE, but also to surpass the Peugeot e-208/Opel Corsa-e. Moreover, thanks to its incredible efficiency, even with a smaller battery capacity it would have more range than the Nissan LEAF e+, which gets a WLTP range of 385 km (239 miles) from a big 62 kWh battery.

 

LG Chem battery cells overview

 

This article was meant to show you what the battery technology we already have available can achieve. Automakers like Toyota that say they are waiting for the perfect battery (which is an unicorn and will never exist) to finally embrace electric cars, are the ones that want nothing done.

While better things are definitely coming soon – like NCMA and cobalt-free LFMP batteries -, automakers already have the tools to make great electric cars with good range that are affordable.

Moreover, battery technology isn’t the only important thing, automakers also need to focus more on efficiency. The Tesla Model 3 and the Hyundai IONIQ Electric already proved that it really matters.

 

 

More info:

https://www.lgchem.com/product/PD00000148

https://www.lgchem.com/product/PD00000066

Pedro Lima

My interest in electric transportation is mostly political. I’m tired of coups and wars for oil. My expectation is that the adoption of electric transportation will be a factor for peace and democracy all over the world.

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sola
1 year ago

Great stuff.

I would really like an upgraded Ioniq, especially if it had some stronger motor as well.

I agree that the Kona doesn’t need more range (well, the 64 kWh edition, that is) but it needs lower prices. The 64 kWh edition is uncomfortably close to the Tesla Model 3 SR+ in price.

p-run
1 year ago
Reply to  Pedro Lima

I just do not understand why Ioniq has such poor battery energy density with same 622 cells as competitors. It looks strange…

Ricardo
1 year ago

Great article as always thank you very much

Giora
1 year ago

Hi Pedro,
I did raise the possibility of the NCM712 cells in the current European Kona, but thinking more deeply I tend to agree with you that possible explanation 1 is more plausible.
To use NCM712 cells in the 64kWh battery would mean using less cells, probably around 234 of them which may mean ~78s3p arrangement. However 78 in series means lower battery nominal voltage (285-288 V?), this lower voltage may considerably restrict the max. allowable power, both charging and consumed.
Just a thought…

Tom Houlden
1 year ago
Reply to  Pedro Lima

Thanks for another 2 great articles.

When my friend’s 500e lease ended last year, she paid LESS for a Tesla 3 “std+” with leather & wheel upgrade, than for a base cloth eKona, since the latter were going for $5k over list.

& you’re right tires don’t make much difference, if any: Both me & that friend replaced our stock 500e LRR all-season tires with 2 sizes wider (same diameter) standard RR all-seasons with NO measurable range difference. Granted, the LRRs were heavier, but if there’s no net power savings there’s also no point!

Giora
1 year ago
Reply to  Pedro Lima

Yes, thanks, slipped my mind! same number of lighter cells with about the same cell capacity and in the same arrangement. increased range mainly due to lighter car, and larger cooling passages as a bonus thanks to the smaller cells.

Richard Petek
1 year ago

The Hyundai Ioniq with the 28 kWh battery was able to charge at 70-75 kW. The newer 38 kWh pack is barely capable of doing beyond 40 kW.
All this advance in capacity is pretty much worthless if these batteries won’t also have a 2 – 2,5 C rapid charging rate.
Which means – 50 kWh batteries being capable of charging at 100 kW and more. Without that, they are still short-to-mid range commuter cars.
Look what Tesla’s Model 3 SR+ is capable of doing (peak charge rate of up to 170 kW, a sustained charging speed way beyond 100 kW) – and use it as the baseline.

sola
1 year ago
Reply to  Richard Petek

Agreed, the sustained fast charge rate should be over 100kw for any serious long range EVs.

The Ioniq is probably limited by the limited, air cooling system of the battery.

Giora
1 year ago
Reply to  sola

The 38.3 kWh Ionic has liquid cooling system of the battery

sola
1 year ago
Reply to  Giora

Ah, I have not heard about them switching to liquid cooling on this model facelift. That is great and will make the Ioniq an even better long-term investment.

However, the fact that it can charge slower than the previous, air-cooled model is very strange. The car should be able to cool the battery during fast-charging and thus allow for higher sustained rates.

Giora
1 year ago
Reply to  sola

Yes, seems to be against the trend. In my opinion it is a result of the fact it is a face-lift and not a newly designed model plus the fact of switching cells’ type from high power density to high energy and lower power density.
However, using 50 kW station, which is the majority of stations available nowadays, the difference in waiting time (for, say, additional 150 km) is minimal to nonexistent.

carlos
1 year ago

Love the article, as always. Fantastic detail.

Pretty sure the Zoe40 has a WLTP range of 300km/186miles though?

I’d be extremely happy with a car with a 300 mile WLTP range and 100kW charging for the occasional long trip. I wouldn’t seriously need anything beyond that, ever.

Pajda
1 year ago

Hi Pedro, do you have any informations about this new LG Chem NMC 712 cells parameters? LGY E63B cell have 65Ah nominal capacity with ca 500 Wh/l and 242 Wh/kg energy density. You estimated values for Kona 84 kWh battery leads to ca 620 Wh/l or 80 Ah capacity in LG Chem pouch cell with the same size.

Pajda
1 year ago
Reply to  Pedro Lima

Thx 🙂 In my scepticism I was thinking that pouch cells with >600 Wh/l energy density are still not in mass production. But ZOE “50” seems to use them. I was thinking that they just redesign the pack for using more cells, but the amount of cells and modules in “50” battery is the same as for “40” version with 500 Wh/l LG E63B cells. Maybe the cells/modules can be slightly bigger and so the density is slightly lower than 620 Wh/l calculated for the same size, but still it is great progress. Hope we can soon find at least LG Chem marking/name for this new cell.

Lars
1 year ago

Hi Pedro
You showed what would happen if the NCM 622 cells would be replaced by NCM 712 cells, but how would it look like if the NCM 622 cells would be replaced by NCM 811 cells?

Gareth Claase
1 year ago
Reply to  Pedro Lima

Absolutely first class article as always. Am I right that, all other things equal, the new batteries should be cheaper due to lower expensive cobalt content? Is the difference likely to be significant?

Gareth Claase
1 year ago
Reply to  Pedro Lima

I thought the €100/kWh referred to the operating cost of the batteries, and the reason EVs until now remained so expensive was because, especially given the relatively low volumes sold until recently, each was carrying a whack of capex related to building new factories, production lines and supply chains. It would be slightly odd if they weren’t. Those costs have to be recouped somehow.

Rapid battery tech progress is actually unhelpful just from this point of view, as you have to amortise the capital cost of developing, for example, 523 batteries over the small volume of EVs sold with them before that battery chemistry becomes obsolete (means you have to really load up the capex charge on early EV prices, as you can’t guarantee you will be able to do so over a long period and large production run).

Which is why, with the huge step up in volumes expected, and in fact already being experienced, I’m expecting costs to fall very rapidly by mid century. Do you agree?

Gareth Claase
1 year ago
Reply to  Gareth Claase

I mean mid decade…

Pasi
1 year ago

Interesting.. Also here in Finland MY20 Kona Electric 64kwh got range increase to 484km but battery warranty was dropped from 200000km to 160000km. Could it be coincident or could it be related to battery chemistry?

Famlin
1 year ago

I believe both prismatic and pouch are cuboidal in shape. Only difference is that pouch bulges a little bit while prismatic does not. Will the pouch bulge uniformly so that the entire space/volume is utilized.

Michal Grabowski
1 year ago

Well, i consider 40kwh to be quite inadequate, so i would welcome increasing the SR Models range. At 50kwh they are becoming more pratical, and should be relatively inexpensive. On a LR front I still consider 64kwh to be a bit low. Bjorn tested its Winter Highway range to be about 250km, and that is definitly not enough. So – keep the current geometry, make SR more mainstream, increase LR, to make them more on par with ICE vehicles.

martin.tuky
11 months ago

Great article.
I would like to ask a possibly dumb question: why do most ev systems use 96, 98 cells in series? Why use 96s3p and not 144s2p?
I looked at specs for DC chargers and they seem to support 350-750V output even for 50kW models.
Is it just off-shelf component availabilty for power electronics, or is there more benefit to keeping the voltage lower?

Thank you

Martin

AndreiRev
5 months ago

I just ordered the new Kona facelift and I cannot stop asking myself if there is any chance to have the new NCM 711 battery