CATL’s cobalt-free battery cells are already below 60 euros per kWh

CATL’s cobalt-free battery cells are already below 60 euros per kWh
CATL cobalt-free LFP battery cell

In early March I wrote an article about Tesla’s smart strategy in China. In that article I wrote that cobalt-free LFP/LFMP battery packs could already be made for 80 euros per kWh and NCM 811 battery packs for 100 per kWh.

Some readers may think that I was being optimistic in that article, but I wasn’t. In fact, I was very cautious with my estimates.

 

As you can see below, Reuters’ sources now confirm that the cost estimations I presented months ago were actually conservative.

 

CATL’s cobalt-free LFP/LFMP batteries

  • Cost per kWh (cell): 60 USD (55,27 EUR)
  • Cost per kWh (battery): 80 USD (73,70 EUR)

 

Hypothetical 60 kWh battery

  • Cost of cells: 3.600 USD (3.316 EUR)
  • Cost of complete battery pack: 4.800 USD (4.422 EUR)

 

Pros

  • High power density
  • Extremely safe
  • High cycle life
  • Low cost

Cons

  • Gravimetric and volumetric energy densities aren’t as high as in NCM and NCA chemistries

 

While the energy density of LFP/LFMP batteries isn’t the best, they have high power density and can be charged from 0 to 80 % in less than 20 minutes. The high cycle life also makes them suitable to implement the V2G (Vehicle-to-Grid) technology.

 

Nonetheless, I still think it’s good idea to not rely on a single battery technology. Nickel-rich battery cells like NCMA and eventually manganese-rich battery cells like HE-NCM will still be important.

 

Ok, if batteries are not the problem, what about the rest of the electric car?

Considering that electric cars have much less moving parts than their ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) counterparts, the production process is a lot simpler and cheaper. A production line that assembles electric cars requires less machinery, less space, less workers, less energy and less time.

Recently automakers have been using this argument against electric cars. They now admit that electric car production is a lot simpler, therefore it results in increased unemployment… this way they try to scare public policy-makers away from pushing stricter emissions regulations.

Automakers could use this technological breakthrough to increase production quality by giving their workers more resting time instead of threatening them with unemployment… Tired workers are more likely to make mistakes.

 

Anyway, I started this blog mostly to inform the EV community and public policy-makers on what’s possible with today’s technology and demonstrate that we are being fooled by automakers. The cost of batteries has always been their favorite excuse for delaying the transition to electric cars. Unfortunately this blog has a very small audience and reduced influence.

However, when a large media outlet such as Reuters makes this kind of information available to the public it can be problematic for automakers’ narrative against electric cars. As a result, informed citizens and public policy-makers can push for stricter emissions regulations that favor the transition to electric vehicles.

 

 

More info:

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-autos-tesla-batteries-exclusive/exclusive-teslas-secret-batteries-aim-to-rework-the-math-for-electric-cars-and-the-grid-idUSKBN22Q1WC

39 Comments
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Alain Marduel
4 months ago

Do you have any information about graphene batteries? Tesla is preparing for it, it has been made for a few years in Spain and soon in China. Probably there will be some in our cars within two years.

4 months ago
Reply to  Alain Marduel

As far as I know battery cells from Graphenano were a fairy tale.

However, Samsung SDI hopes to launch graphene batteries for smartphones next year.

https://www.graphene-info.com/samsung

Hudini
4 months ago

Wher I can buy batteries by that price?

4 months ago
Reply to  Hudini

Here, you just need to order a few million battery cells.

https://www.catlbattery.com/en/web/index.php/contact

Hudini
4 months ago
Reply to  Pedro Lima

πŸ˜… I was thinking more like 200.

4 months ago
Reply to  Hudini

Ehehe.

For small quantities AliExpress is the best place to buy battery cells.

Marcel
4 months ago

Good article, thanks Pedro. Yes, it is baffling why the legacy manufacturers are still making excuses, except for VW maybe. Maybe they believe their own disinformation? I keep expecting one of them to make a break from the pack and suddenly drop their prices in a bid to grab market share.

Then again, they may not have access to these CATL cells, and everyone else’s cells might be more expensive.

As well, legacy manufacturers might not have the supply to lower prices and cover the increase in demand that would result, so they can sell out Even with the high prices. but one of these days one of the Chinese makers might undercut them in Europe and then the race will really be on. I was hoping the MG would help start this, but Maybe it’s not quite There yet.

Actually, once giga Berlin is going there will be pressure from tesla too.

4 months ago
Reply to  Marcel

Thanks Marcel.

Yes, electric cars are a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take the lead and smaller automakers are wasting it.

I understand that huge automakers like Toyota or Volkswagen are comfortable with the status quo, since they are currently leaders and already made vast investments in production lines for ICE cars. But I was hoping that a smaller automaker like Mitsubishi, Honda, Mazda or Suzuki for example, would take this opportunity to go all in for electric cars and become an industry leader.

Maximilian Holland
4 months ago

This price reduction is certainly a good bit ahead of common timelines given by BNEF and others. However, Shanghai metal markets reported in February that they are expecting LFP cells to get as low as $45-55 / kWh later this year (300-400 RM).
https://xueqiu.com/7033545077/141711195

LFP has relatively abundant/inexpensive cathode minerals (iron, phosphates, oxygen, manganese) so the price reductions still have plenty of scope to continue. Soon we’ll need to start focusing more on reducing the cost of separators and other cell components.

4 months ago

Thanks Max.

At those battery cost levels electric cars could be substantially cheaper than their ICE counterparts.

The next step is to produce those LFP/LFMP battery cells in Europe and North America. Looking forward for CATL’s battery plant in Germany.

Marcel
4 months ago

Wow. Nice find Max! It certainly seems like the situation is setting up for a manufacturer to introduce a cheap EV that will undercut everyone else, because everyone else is still hanging on to the EV premium on their prices.

If LFP batteries are achieving 160kwh/kg now, I could see a mass market priced car, like a Mazda 3 or a Corolla, with a ~40-45kwh LFP/LFMP battery. This should fit in the same volume that manufactures are currently getting their 64kwh batteries into. While it would only get about 150km on the highway (~110kph, 100% down to 20%), it might be able to charge at a higher rate than NCM batteries of the same capacity, if my understanding of LFP is correct. So it would be able to quickly recharge back to 90% and make charging stops relatively short, if you could charge it at 75kw or higher.

I’m assuming that LFP batteries would still need a battery heater for low outside temps, and a cooling system to deal with faster charging and highway driving.

Caveat, I’m not sure if the lower voltage of the LFP cells causes an issue with overall pack voltage. Would it need to have more cells in series to achieve the 350V necessary for a vehicle, which might mean a bigger heavier pack that might not fit in a small car?

Do you think this would work?

4 months ago
Reply to  Marcel

The future relies on LFMP battery cells, which have higher nominal voltage than LFP (3,75 vs 3,3 V).

https://www.customcells.de/fileadmin/customcells/Dokumente/Newsletter/CUSTOMCELLS-Newsletter-2018-03-01-LMFP.pdf

Marcel
4 months ago
Reply to  Pedro Lima

Thanks Pedro. It looks like they have 3 types (high power, balanced, high energy), do you know if this is different chemistry within LFMP? I’m not sure if I’m reading that correctly, but it looks like the first two can do high power up to at least 80% of charge, but the high energy version would have to start to taper at 50%.

Also, when they are saying cells up to 60ah, am I right in guessing that would refer to a standard sized prismatic or pouch cell? I would guess this would be the high energy version, so maybe not able to charge at 3C past 50%? If this is similar in size to the original BMW i3 60ah cells, I would guess it might be hard to squeeze more than 40-45kwh into a car due to the volume.

In any case, even a 3C charge with a taper would average out to ~2C over a charge, making a charging stop to get from 10-80% or 10-90% not too onerous, and well under 30 minutes. I would definitely be interested in a cost competitive EV with 40-45kwh if it charged decently well like that.

4 months ago
Reply to  Marcel

Hi Marcel.

The 3 types of battery cells (high power, balanced and high energy) probably have differences in the current collectors and/or electrolytes.

https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ijp/2019/3792942/

Regarding the dimension of the cells, I have no idea. However, the purpose of showing that PDF to you, was just to demonstrate the higher voltage of LFMP cells.

Marcel
4 months ago
Reply to  Pedro Lima

Ok thanks Pedro, all the info you keep giving us is greatly appreciated.

Barry
4 months ago
Reply to  Pedro Lima

Pedro,

So is this a typo?

https://lithiumrvbattery.com/Lithium_RV_Battery/GBS_200AH_Cells.html

I am guessing “GBS” is the manufacturer. Do you know what company this is?

Thanks!

4 months ago
Reply to  Barry

Hi Barry.

GBS is a well known Chinese LFP battery cell maker.

Looking at the voltage and energy density those cells are LFP, maybe naming them LFMP is better for marketing purposes.

http://www.gbsystem.com/

Teddy
2 months ago
Reply to  Pedro Lima

Pedro Lima,
What are your Predictions For LFMP Battery Energy Density ( At Pack Level) , say in 4 Years From Now, Can they Achieve 250Wh/kg at pack-level at $50/kWh pack?

2 months ago
Reply to  Teddy

We already have LFP at 200 Wh/kg, LFMP would give a 17 % higher voltage and energy density (234 Wh/kg).

I’d say that yes, it’s possible to achieve those figures in 4 years.

Teddy
2 months ago
Reply to  Pedro Lima

Then, A Tesla Model 3 RWD With 100kWh battery will cost about $40,000 While Still Giving Healthy Profits For The Company.

Marcel
4 months ago
Reply to  Marcel

Oops, I just noticed the comment that Pedro made below that LFP can charge at 3C. This means that a 40-45kwh vehicle could recharge ~30kwh safely at around 100kw, so charging stops would be 20minutes. This would make a 45kwh LFP EV adequate for longer trips, and very competitive on sticker price.

Maximilian Holland
4 months ago
Reply to  Marcel

Pedro is more up-to-date on LF[M]P than pretty much anyone else, so just search here for LFP (and LFMP) news.

Regarding your questions above – 45 kWh gross (maybe 43 kWh usable, due to LFP’s good DOD cycling performance) would be great for efficiency-focused EV designs (Model 3, Ioniq and many more coming). If $80/kWh pack is realistic, this is a $3,600 cost.

An EV like the Ioniq should get at least ~310 km (EPA combined) and ~280 km (EPA highway) with such a pack. (Model 3 actually has about 10% better EPA highway efficiency than 2020 Ioniq, so perhaps 308 km. That’s around 2.5+ hours of decent highway driving from full, then ~2 hours for each subsequent 70% (10-80%) recharge. Very acceptable for many folks.

Yes, 2C or 3C peak charging (so 90-135 kW peak for 45 kWh pack) is okay with LFP and LFMP – 20 minutes should be aimed at as the new normal for 10-80% DC charging, and heading towards 15 minutes (and later towards 10 mins, hopefully emerging in vehicles by 2025). 15-20 minutes break between 2 hour highway stages? Pretty good. Pre-drive pack warming on cool days when plugged in is always sensible when possible. Since average 110 km/h highway cruising only needs around 15 kW of power, and LF[M]P is very heat tolerant, not much energy required for cooling (so range could be further boosted vs. NCx norms). Cooling still advisable for LF[M]P when fast charging, but this can be pulled from the charger itself.

Personally I favour EVs that have 2 or 3 battery size offerings – roughly 300, 400, 500 km EPA type combined range. LFMP should already provide 400-450 km in an efficient EV (and improve in the future). For folks who rarely/never make road trips and have a daily plug (work/home) 300 km range (~ a week’s worth of commuting) may be plenty.

There’s no big issue with pack voltage. Yes LFP is a nominal ~3.2 or 3.3 volts, lower than the ~3.65 nominal of NMx, but different series/parallel cells configurations can take care of this. LFP’s 3.2-3.3 volt is also typically given over a wider range of SOC than NCx chemistries (typically 4.2 to 3.0 volts depending on SOC, and falls of more steeply below around 3.4v). As Pedro points out, LFMP nominal voltage gets closer to NCx levels.

Biggest advantage of LF[M]P in my view is the cost curve potential, and how it relates to the lack of issues around mineral scarcity or price spikes (vs. Cobalt and Nickel). Nickel-based still has an important role for those longer range EVs that must remain weight-conscious.

Marcel
4 months ago

Thanks for the reply Max. Yes, I think such a configuration (~275-300km with decent fast charging) would be acceptable for a lot of people, and if such an EV was down to close to sticker price parity, I’d think it would sell really well. I don’t know how much the electric motor, charger, and inverter costs, but I would think they’d cost a lot less than an ICE, transmission, exhaust and fuel system. So that would offset that $3600 for the battery pack, and the EV premium should be more like $2-3000 at most. Right now in Canada the LEAF 40kwh is ~$20,000 CAD more than a Sentra, which would translate to about $15,000 USD for the EV premium. If they had an EV that only cost $5000 CAD more than a standard ICE, they’d sell a ton of them.

I also agree about the battery size offerings, and I think Tesla’s strategy of using LFP for the standard range Chinese Model 3 and NMC for the long range is really smart.

Lex
1 month ago
Reply to  Marcel

I came accross this article on LFP procurement through China Mobile.
https://news.metal.com/newscontent/101057488/China%E2%80%99s-demand-for-LFP-energy-storage-batteries-to-soar-87-in-2020-following-the-rise-of-5G/

Expectations of the tender(sourcing storage LFP batteries for 2020)
sourced capacity of 512.2 million Ah, with. 3.2V, for 250.8 million yuan (tax included).

Which would make roughly USD 36million for a 1.639GWh capacity, or USD 22 per kWh.

That seems rather different, from above mentioned costs. And a little fantastical.

Could it be, that it is for 3.2V, and thus lower gravimetric energy density, and above numbers are for 3.7V cells?

sola
4 months ago

I really hope that policymakers start coming down on them hard, especially here in the EU.

4 months ago
Reply to  sola

Me too!

Bim
4 months ago
Reply to  sola

Dont worry guys the traditional carmakers will find another excuse im sure

Janos Szasz
4 months ago
4 months ago
Reply to  Janos Szasz

Hi Janos.

I still don’t understand all the fuss around “million-mile” battery cells. We already have those cells with NCM, NCA or LFP chemistries. We just need to limit the usable battery capacity and we’ll get a very extended cycle life.

https://pushevs.com/2018/04/27/battery-charging-full-versus-partial/

Maximilian Holland
4 months ago
Reply to  Pedro Lima

Yes, totally agree this “million mile” mostly marketing hype, relative to the performance we already have.
However, it it helps to let regular folks to learn that EVs are much more reliable and long lasting than their ICE vehicle, maybe it’s worth enduring this hyperbole.

Barry
4 months ago

Pedro, Do you know if a Model 3 with LFP cells can charge as fast as NCA cells at peak and steady state charge rates? Thanks!

4 months ago
Reply to  Barry

Hi Barry.

LFP battery cells can be charged at a 3 C-rate, which means that a 80 kWh battery can be charged at 240 kW.

Tom Houlden
4 months ago
Reply to  Pedro Lima

That recharges a WEEK of driving in about 18 MINUTES!*.Β Β Β 

For long-distance trips it adds about 160 miles in 10 minutes*.Β Β Β 

* 240kW times 4 miles/kWh (ballpark EV consumption) is 960 miles per hour, divided by 60 is 16 mi/min or 160 miles in 10 min..Β  Annual US average is about 15,000 miles, divided by 52 weeks is 288 miles/week, divided by 16 mi/min is 18 minutes/week at a station, for the masses without home or work power access.

Famlin
4 months ago

This is a great news. We are looking for only $100 / KWh by 2020-12. But now we are seeing $80 / KWh is amazing.
LFP is safer, lasts longer and charges faster. Only problem is they are heavy and only 400 km is possible. Thats perfectly fine. For any trip beyond 400 km, we can charge in supercharging station on the way for the remaining trip.

If it costs $3,600 for 60 KWh, then the Leaf (both 40 KWh & 62 KWh) should be much cheaper if they had opted for LFP. Lets hope they do this.
I believe the bloombergs estimate of average cost of $156 / KWh by 2019-10 will be much lower by 2020-12 with price in between $120 – $130 / KWh range.

Marcel
4 months ago
Reply to  Famlin

Yes, let’s hope they do this. I’m not sure I trust Nissan to make good decisions about EVs going forward though. They look like they’re abandoning Europe, and sitting on their hands concerning the LEAF. The Ariya coming out is supposed to be up market, even as EVs are making fast inroads into the middle market. IMO, they should’ve made a crossover EV using the LEAF technology (Just raised the LEAF by a few cm basically) and added some kind of Thermal Management System to their battery so their charging speeds could be raised. They seem to be indicating that EVs are a second thought, much like Toyota and Honda.

dan
4 months ago

do you know something about new battery type Li-S (lithium – sulf)?

dan
4 months ago
Reply to  dan

made by Brighsun New Energy.

Marcel
4 months ago
Reply to  dan
4 months ago
Reply to  dan

Sorry Dan, I don’t think Brighsun is a legit company.

Their office’s address in Australia is where a convenience store is located.