Most energy dense cobalt-free LFP batteries

Yutong E12 electric bus with LFP battery

Currently the most energy dense battery packs made with cobalt-free LFP (LiFePO4) cells in China are being used by electric buses.

Yutong electric buses powered by CATL’s LFP battery cells hold the current record with an impressive figure of 161,29 Wh/kg at the battery pack level. This means that at the battery cell level CATL already managed to surpass 190 Wh/kg…

It comes as a nice surprise after the disappointing energy density figure of 125 Wh/kg achieved by the Tesla Model 3 with CATL’s LFP battery cells.

However, to be fair, it’s important to understand that LFP battery cells can be optimized for energy density or power density. It seems that electric buses are getting the variant optimized for energy density while Tesla is getting the variant optimized for power density, which makes sense when we want fast charging rates and super fast acceleration.


Now let’s see a small list of some interesting electric buses with LFP batteries available in China.


  • Brand: Yutong
  • Model: ZK6126BEVG5E and ZK6126BEVG5L
  • Length: 12 m
  • Range: 675 km (419 miles)
  • Capacity: 350,07 kWh
  • Energy density: 161,29 Wh/kg


  • Brand: Yutong
  • Model: ZK6816BEVG6
  • Length: 8,145 m
  • Range: 400 km (249 miles)
  • Capacity: 175,03 kWh
  • Energy density: 161,29 Wh/kg


  • Brand: Yutong
  • Model: ZK6856BEVG5
  • Length: 8,545 m
  • Range: 390 km (242 miles)
  • Capacity: 175,03 kWh
  • Energy density: 161,29 Wh/kg


  • Brand: Yutong
  • Model: ZK6816BEVG3
  • Length: 8,145 m
  • Range: 400 km (249 miles)
  • Capacity: 175,03 kWh
  • Energy density: 161,27 Wh/kg


  • Brand: Yutong
  • Model: ZK6856BEVG3
  • Length: 8,545 m
  • Range: 390 km (242 miles)
  • Capacity: 175,03 kWh
  • Energy density: 161,27 Wh/kg


  • Brand: Geely
  • Model: DNC6120BEVG8
  • Length: 12 m
  • Range: 565 km (351 miles)
  • Capacity: 338,4 kWh
  • Energy density: 161,27-160,43 Wh/kg


  • Brand: Jinlong United Automotive Industry (Suzhou)
  • Model: KLQ6106GAEVN5
  • Length: 10,49 m
  • Range: 595 km (370 miles)
  • Capacity: 303,4 kWh
  • Energy density: 161,27-160,43 Wh/kg


  • Brand: Shenlong
  • Model: SLK6125UBEVP1
  • Length: 11,995 m
  • Range: 570 km (354 miles)
  • Capacity: 326,73 kWh
  • Energy density: 161-160 Wh/kg


  • Brand: Dongguan Zhongqi Hongyuan Automobile
  • Model: KMT6119HBEV
  • Length: 10,995 m
  • Range: 510 km (317 miles)
  • Capacity: 303,4 kWh
  • Energy density: 161-160 Wh/kg


  • Brand: Yaxing
  • Model: JS6108GHBEV30
  • Length: 10,5 m
  • Range: 501 km (311 miles)
  • Capacity: 303,4 kWh
  • Energy density: 160,85 Wh/kg


The range is measured at an unknown constant speed, but considering that some of these electric buses are for urban use and have a maximum speed of 69 km/h (43 mph) it can’t be high…

Notice that the list above is just a small sample I made, on MIIT’s (Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of the People’s Republic) catalog you can find hundreds of different models and some of these electric buses are already being exported to Europe.


Anyway, CATL might not hold the record for very long. Guoxuan High-Tech is a battery cell maker specialized in LFP chemistry that just received a huge investment from Volkswagen.

This company is already producing LFP battery cells with an energy density of 190 Wh/kg since last year and recently announced to have reached 200 Wh/kg, but is still working on improving performance (cyclability and C-rates).

I’m very curious to see what a module-less CTP (cell-to-pack) battery can achieve with Guoxuan’s latest LFP cells.


A new era for the Chinese electric car market

After electric buses, it’s time for electric cars start getting LFP battery packs with energy densities above 160 Wh/kg. When it happens, they’ll also be eligible for the full subsidy in China without having to use NCM or NCA batteries.

Electric car subsidy in China depends on range and battery pack energy density – 2019 vs 2020


In China, were automakers are really interested in selling electric cars, the quick comeback of LFP batteries now seems inevitable. Only with cobalt-free batteries the production of electric cars can be high enough to completely replace ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) cars.

Moreover, in the near future, with LFMP (high-voltage version of LFP) battery cells we can even reach 240 Wh/kg at the cell level and 200 Wh/kg at the pack level. LFMP chemistry can be as energy dense as LNMO, the cobalt-free chemistry favored by SVOLT that’s scheduled to arrive next year.


What about Europe?

Let’s face it, we also won’t have truly affordable electric cars that compete with ICE cars on price and availability without cobalt-free batteries. We had high hopes for the UpMiiGo electric triplets, but they were short lived.

In Germany…

  1. Skoda increased the price of the CITIGOᵉ iV and now starts at 25.170 euros.
  2. SEAT no longer accepts orders for the Mii Electric.
  3. As for the Volkswagen e-up it has a waiting time so long that makes you give up, it should be named Volkswagen give-up…


Until European automakers start selling electric cars with cobalt-free batteries, they can’t be taken seriously. Production will always be low and prices will be high.

Currently in Europe, most new electric cars have NCM 523 or NCM 622 batteries with an energy density between 140 and 150 Wh/kg. Using cobalt-free CTP batteries that surpass 160 Wh/kg would be an improvement in every area.


We have been waiting for the Chinese invasion for some time, but we also knew that it wouldn’t be successful if Chinese electric cars had nothing new to offer (especially on price and availability). However, now with extremely cheap and safe cobalt-free CTP batteries Chinese electric cars have an unique appeal and their arrival is almost inevitable.

It’ll start with the luxury BYD Han EV in Norway already this year, but soon evolve to a broader offer. With LFP batteries Chinese electric cars can reach price-parity with ICE cars without the need of subsidies.


BYD e1


For example, if BYD decided to replace the 32,2 kWh NCM battery of the BYD e1 with a cobalt-free CTP battery and sell it for 15.000 euros before subsidies worldwide, it could be the modern-day people’s car. Seriously BYD, just do it!

Anyway, when it comes to electric buses Chinese automakers already dominate the European market, we’ll see how long will it take them to accomplish the same with electric cars. Meanwhile, European automakers will keep fighting electric cars and then wonder why suddenly Chinese automakers toke over…


DIY (Do-It-Yourself) projects

Prismatic LFP battery cells were always very tempting to use in personal or academic projects. They are easy to get, durable, safe, powerful and extremely simple to assemble with screw terminals.

In the old days, the best we could get were heavy cells with energy densities around 90-100 Wh/kg from cell makers such as CALB or Thunder Sky. Today we can easily buy much better LFP battery cells with energy densities of 172 Wh/kg and 349 Wh/L, which is very similar to what we get with the much more expensive NCM 111 battery cells from Samsung SDI (174 Wh/kg and 352 Wh/L).

Assembling prismatic battery cells that have screw terminals is as easy as playing with LEGO bricks. We can connect 4 cells in series to assemble an ordinary 12 V battery, 8 cells for a 24 V or 16 cells for a much respectable 48 V battery. I really think that DIY projects will grow considerably with the current evolution of prismatic LFP battery cells.

Today you can already notice a sudden increase in YouTube videos from people that assembled LFP battery cells to replace the 12 V lead-acid battery in their cars or made a 48 V ESS (Energy Storage System) that costed a fraction of a Tesla Powerwall.


Anyway, what do you think? Is cobalt-free CTP batteries the technology that was missing to make electric cars mainstream?



More info:

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.

28 Responses

  1. Rodrigo Melo says:

    For reference, Portuguese made CaetanoBus 12m electric city buses consome between 85 to 125 kWh/100km.

  2. Stephane Cnockaert says:

    Hi Pedro, the do-it-yourself approach (building modern Cobalt-free battery packs) remains difficult because of the required thermal management. One can try immersing all cells into a non-conductive fluid, kind of non-toxic oil that’s currently used for cooling power transformers. Problem then, is to produce a big battery pack enclosure that’s perfectly tight. You cannot produce this in a do-it-yourself scenario. The adventure stops here.

    Imagine now a 100 Ah 24 volts enclosure (this is 2.4 kWh) tolerating a 200 amp sustained charge current and a 400 amp sustained discharge current, embedding a autonomous coolant pump, and featuring a coolant input port along with a coolant output port. Stack 12 modules like this, electrically in series, and thermally in parallel. This way you can build a heavy duty 288 volts system storing 28.8 kWh (gross energy), able to deliver 115 kW sustained (150 kW peak). And tolerating 4,000 18 kWh (net energy) charge + discharge cycles. NOBODY WILL NEED A BIGGER BATTERY PACK. Why? Because 18 kWh (net energy) allow to drive 100 km in electric mode 4,000 times in a row which is a total of 400,000 km, and on top of this you will be able to drive another 200,000 km in serial-hybrid mode thanks to a $5,000 option consisting into a 60 kg 30 kW @ 3,000 rpm petrol engine + axial-flux starter/generator the size of a cabin baggage (eight bolts from underneath), installed between the rear wheels.

    There will thus exist two versions of the MG ZS Mk2 or Renault Zoé Mk2. The city version will sell $15,000 (28.8 kWh pure EV aka robotaxi). The serial-hybrid version will sell $20,000 (28.8 kWh + 30 kW @ 3,000 rpm range extender). Both versions will self-recharge at home or at the office, using a 220 volt 16 amp (3 kW) charging port, same way a robotized lawnmower does. The charging port embeds a camera that’s detecting the car in a 5 meters radius, that’s taking control of the car for establishing the recharging connection.

    A 100 Ah 24 volts module (this is 2.4 kWh gross) tolerating a 200 amp sustained charge current and a 400 amp sustained discharge current, embedding a autonomous coolant pump, and featuring a coolant input port along with a coolant output, will sell $288 FOB China.Together, the 12 modules will sell $3,400 FOB China. As you can see, the architecture that is going to become standard, is the MG ZS / Renault Zoé architecture, easing the installation of the range extender located between the rear wheels, easing the installation of the fuel tank located under the rear seating, and the easing the installation of the exhaust/silencer located underneath the rear trunk.

    Tesla and VW will regret the decision they made, consisting in installing the electric motor between the rear wheels.Tesla and VW will end-up copying the MG ZS / Renault Zoé architecture, actually the Mercedes Class A (1st gen) architecture dating back from 1997 (Type 168), conceived for accommodating a thin battery “skateboard” underneath, possibly conceived for leapfrogging the Toyota Prius also dating back from 1997.

    As you may have noticed, Pedro, with a 160 Wh/kg energy density at the “100 Ah 24 volt enclosure” level, and a 18.8 kWh (gross energy) storage requirement, there is no need for the 120 kg “skateboard” battery pack, to extend underneath the rear seating. I am curious to see how FCA and Suzuki are going to arrange for producing a next generation Fiat 500x / Suzuki Ignis, and I am curious too see how fast VW is going to tell, they have a “FEB” platform aka “Front Engine Skateboard” platform, designed to be compatible will all existing VW bodies, accommodating three different skateboard “thicknesses”.

    • Freddy says:

      What you mention was already done with the BMW i3 REX as far as i understand it… Problems:

      • You still pollute;
      • You still have to pump gas;
      • You still have ICE high costs maintenance
      • car could not sustain highway speeds if using REX;

      Those I believe were the main reasons why the REX option was abandoned and not used by other manufacturers.

      IMHO, with costs of batteries with a sustained decrease… if a REX sollution did not gained momentum with bmw i3 and GM’s Volt/Ampera much sense in 2010’s, it makes no sense now or in the previsible future…

      • Stephane Cnockaert says:

        Hi Freddy, there will be inexpensive electric cars for calm people driving less than 100 km per day, recharging at home or at the office, and there will be expensive & problematic electric cars for kilometerholic people. Guess what specie is due to extinct. And there will be serial-hybrid cars, basing on be inexpensive electric cars. Speaking of range extenders, one should base on the Yamaha FZ09 engine, able to deliver 100 kW @ 10,000 rpm, duly reconfigured (less moving mass, resonant intake, resonant exhaust) for maintaining a peak efficiency between 30 kW @ 3,000 rpm and 40 kW @ 4,000 rpm. Such piece of engineering, roughly the size of a cabin baggage, is going to be maintained as a whole by motorbiking specialists, organized as a network, duly equipped with a dyno, a lubricant analyzer, a coolant analyzer, and a exhaust analyzer. Don’t worry. Petrol engines will get new bosses, focusing on usability and long term maintainability. Standardization will reign.

        • Lars says:

          Why would someone put a noisy, smelly and vibrating engine into a BEV? You would totally destroy the comfort of driving purely electric. The goal is to remove the noisy and toxic engines.

          • Stephane Cnockaert says:

            A 100% rear-wheel-drive electric car weighting 1,800 kg that’s embedding a 80 kWh battery pack (Tesla 3 or Tesla Y or VW ID.3) pollutes more than a front-wheel-drive serial-hybrid car weighting 1,200 kg (Suzuki Ignis Serial-Hybrid). Reason 1 : less tires dust. Reason 2 : less front brakes dust (the front-wheel drive car better utilizes the regenerative braking). Reason 3 : the serial-hybrid car doesn’t demand more electric power plants and doesn’t demand more electric power lines. Reason 4 : the long term evolution of petrol used as fuel is 85% Ethanol locally produced. Reason 5 : there are 600 kg less recycling required, per car. Reason 6 : Soon or later, personal cars featuring a range that’s greater than 200 km will get banned for dissuading people from becoming kmholic. The roads will render better services once society endorses the idea that a road must “collect” $0.10 per ton-km, for getting properly maintained.

          • Freddy says:

            Really dust from tires?! and from brakes?!

            I know eletric cars with over 60K Kms with same original tires (my previous motorcycle with just 180kgs I had to change front tire each 15KKms and back tire every 10 KKms)… eletric cars with over 200 KKms with same brake pads and rust on disk brakes (for not being used)… If you want to insist, do it properly…
            After batteries are used as primary car, it can be used as a secondary car (with less range)… after that it can be used as energy storage… the total life cycle of a battery and advantages throughout are far superior to the recycling procedure that eventually will be necessary….

            0,10EUR/Ton Km – good luck on cost of transport of any goods to your home by truck…

            There whill always be Premium Cars and other transportation, there are extremely expensive yachts, cars (bugatti, rolls), private jets, etc…. you just have to pay for these goods…sometimes premium taxes as considered luxury items…

            Hybrids are just so 2000

          • Lars says:

            I don’t know where you live, but here in Denmark a Tesla Model 3, Tesla Model Y and VW ID.3 are somewhat bigger than a Suzuki Ignis. The batteries are getting better and better, the combustion engine is not.
            If tires and brakes are a pollution problem for you, what about all the oil that has to be changed every year? And have you considered the amount of energy that is required to produce the fossil fuel?
            A serial hybrid was a good idea when GM made the Volt, but hopefully soon even the last politicians will understand that BEV is the only way to go.
            Surely not every car needs a 400 km range, but most people will want to be able to drive longer distances with their car and not have to charge ever half an hour.
            I don’t think we will see any serial hybrids in five years time.

  3. Famlin says:

    Per the bp energy stats, the price of Cobalt crashed from $79.92 / ton in 2018 to $33.31 / ton in 2019.
    Similarly production of element decreased from 154.600 tons to 121.800 tons during same period
    This shows that the cobalt content is going down drastically despite sales of more higher range BEVs. Wonderful.

  4. Famlin says:

    Electric buses are the best thing since they drive many 100s of km/day. So a bus with 400 km may be driven somewhere between 300 – 500 km (can be charged during lunch time fore few more hours of drive) and being so big, they reduce diesel consumption in tons / year.
    Ideally automakers should sell small crossovers for Taxis without much luxury and priced affordably. This way the taxi operators can buy those BEVs affordably and get the ROI quickly.

    • Stephane Cnockaert says:

      Hi Famlin, back in 2010, BYD was selling electric buses along with their BYD e6 taxi 4.55 meter long, 1.63 meter high, featuring a 60 kWh Li-FePO4 battery, upgraded to 80 kWh in 2017. This was a front motor front wheel drive “skateboard” architecture, same principle as the Nissan Leaf, Renault Zoé and MG ZS. Back in 2010, the low energy density of the Li-FePO4 chemistry obliged BYD to double the skateboard thickness under the front seats, and to triple the skateboard thickness under the rear seats. Such arrangement obliged BYD to limit the sustained discharge rate to 2C, because the cells located under the seats receive less cooling than the cells used as floor. Nowadays, the improved energy density of the Li-FePO4 chemistry allows relying on a less complicated, better cooled “skateboard” sustaining a 3C discharge rate. A MG ZS equipped with a 30 kWh Li-FePO4 skateboard that you recharge during lunch time (60 kW recharge power billed $0.40 per kWh) can serve as a nice compact taxi.

      • Famlin says:

        @Stephane : Thanks for the info. BYD e6 came before Nissan Leaf and sold very well. I wonder why BYD never redesigned it and just ignored it. Had they redesigned and installed the latest batteries, its sales should have increased.

    • Marcel says:

      Yes, I agree e-buses are the best thing! And a basic e-taxi design would be great, replacing many of the millions of taxis driving around Cities all over the world, including in developing countries.

  5. Famlin says:

    Cutting the subsidy is actually a good thing. With subsidies, automakers just increase the cost by that amount and this gives a view that BEVs are expensive and many people just ignore it. Also the resale value goes down since the used vehicle buyers ask for very low price.

    With such drastic subsidy cuts, the automakers accordingly lowered the prices and sold quite a lot of BEVs this year despite coronavirus. Vehicle with 400 + km range gets just $3.200 in subsidy and soon this may also go away by the end of this year. By 2021-01, most likely with battery prices at $120 / KWh, expect many 400 + km range in very affordable price range and selling in high #.

  6. Ramsés says:

    Hi Pedro, what is the price of these buses and when will they be compared to the combustion buses? Thank you

    • Pedro Lima says:

      After a quick search, this is what I found.

      In 2012:

      “BYD calculates that a BYD ebus over 8 years saves about $190,000 in energy costs. In 2012, the price for a BYD ebus was €380,000 Euros, €100,000 more than a comparable diesel bus.”


      “The minimum price for a Heuliez Bus GX 337 Electric, a French 12-metre electric bus, is $503,000. German MAN Lion’s City E bus prices start at $635,000. German Mercedes eCitaro buses begin at $558,000 – reports Asian Times -. The domestic manufacturer and distributor SaryarkaAvtoProm met all the necessary requirements with its Yutong ZK6128BEVG electric bus costing 146.7 million tenge (US$378,000)”

      The Yutong ZK6128BEVG (E12) is the one in the featured image, it has a 422,87 kWh LFP battery.

      • Janos Szasz says:

        Important comparison Pedro, you agreed to cover e-buses – and kept your word!

        However e-bus selling prices greatly depend on a lot of things:
        -is the charging device included
        -what kind of warranty is covered
        -size of battery unit and charging requirements
        -further individual specification of tenderer
        -size of order and delivery requirements

        The 2012/2013 price is irrelevant now. and theagreed difference between diesel and pure electric buses is cca 100%

        For the information of this distinguished community:
        Pécs / Hungary should have in service from May a 10 unit BYD K9U fleet, required to cover 90 000 km/year with slow charge.

        The 348 kWh LiFePo battery / 24+56=80 passenger capacity e-buses with 2×40 kW AC chargers cost 145 million HUF / 410-420 000 EUR.

  7. Josef Šoltes says:

    Well, this is wonderfull and also disapointing news. Wonderfull because EVs will soon be on par with ICE vehicles, disapointing, because I will have to wait for a truly good batteries for my electric plane project. 300 Wh/kg would be great. But those cells are impossible to get now. NO ONE has them or uses them. The best you can get are those polymer 622 cells from Hyundai Kona at about 250 Wh/kg.

  8. phexo says:

    ….VW give-Up !

    priceless lol

  9. Alnair says:

    In Spain, there are a new small company that offers battery rebuilds for Nissan Leaf: (now temporary unavailable, see cache
    It takes an old Leaf battery and replaces old modules with more modern ones, providing a capacity up to 64 KWh

    I think we will see a lot of this offers in the future.

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