Samsung SDI is already producing high-nickel content battery cells

Samsung SDI Gen 5 prismatic battery cell
Samsung SDI Gen 5 prismatic battery cell

At the InterBattery 2021 event in Seoul, South Korea, Samsung SDI finally announced that it’s already producing high-nickel content battery cells. Moreover, Samsung SDI confirmed that its new cylindrical and prismatic cells have different nickel concentrations.


Nickel concentration in cathode of new Samsung SDI battery cells

  • Cylindrical form: 91 % – 670 Wh/L
  • Prismatic form: 88 % – 630 Wh/L


Samsung SDI cylindrical battery cell

Samsung SDI cylindrical battery cell


With the cylindrical battery cells Samsung SDI is probably aiming to supply Tesla in China, while the Gen 5 prismatic battery cells will likely be used first in Europe later this year.

The Gen 5 prismatic battery cells are already being produced in Europe (Hungary) and could be used to give the BMW i3 its long awaited range upgrade. The FIAT 500 that currently uses the same 120 Ah cells as the BMW i3 could also benefit from an upgrade to the more energy dense Gen 5 cells. With the upgrade both electric cars could surpass 400 km of WLTP range and get a faster charging rate (above 100 kW).

Actually, prismatic battery cells with a volumetric energy density of 630 Wh/L could give the BMW i3 and the FIAT 500 a battery upgrade from 42 to 58 kWh. It would make possible a WLTP range around 440 km for the FIAT 500 and 490 km for the BMW i3, which is more than enough for small A-segment electric cars.


Previously, it was expected that Samsung would adopt NCM 811 as its next step, as we can see from its roadmap below.


Samsung SDI battery cell roadmap


Anyway, it’s curious that Korean battery cell makers adopted different high-nickel content battery chemistries.

SK Innovation chose NCM 90, Samsung SDI adopted NCA 88/91 and LG Chem went with NCMA, which is a combination of both battery technologies and delivers the best performance – at least on paper.


Performance of different advanced battery cell cathodes


Looking forward to see these more energy dense, but also cheaper – with low-cobalt content – battery cells in electric cars soon.



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.

18 Responses

  1. Barry says:

    Pedro, Do you know if the cell voltage (I typically see a nominal voltage of 3.66 or 3.7 V for a NCM 1:1:1 cell) is different for these high nickel content cells? Thanks!

    • Pedro Lima says:

      Hi Barry. The voltage is the same.

      High-manganese content battery cells will have higher voltage.

      • antrik says:

        Only HV-spinel though, not layered oxides with high manganese contents — both being in development by different players.

  2. Julian says:

    Now bring on the silicon anodes for faster charging (under 20 minutes) and finally kill ICE cars.

    • Rok says:

      Looks like Enevate is close to it now:

      The Irvine-based company particularly emphasises the fast-charging qualities of its technology. In January 2020, Enevate underpinned this goal for the first time with somewhat more concrete figures. The 4th generation XFC Energy technology with silicon-dominated anode technology allows a 5-minute charge to 75 per cent capacity at 800 Wh/L and 340 Wh/kg cell energy density, it said. Extrapolated to a typical BEV battery, this could provide power for an additional 390 kilometres (240 miles) in five minutes.

      According to company founder and CTO Benjamin Park, the technology was developed for “large format pouch, prismatic and cylindrical EV cells”, combining a pure silicon anode with nickel-rich NCA, NCM and NCMA cathodes. This enables the cells to reach 1,000 cycles and operate at temperatures of “-20˚C and below”.

      • Pedro Lima says:

        Hi Rok.

        I just checked the website and it seems that mass production begins next year. Thanks for the heads up.

  3. John says:

    According to the German YouTube channel NextMove, they have received information that the i3 will cease it’s production this coming fall 2021.It’s a respectable channel so i trust their claim. It might make more sense for BMW to release their LWB 3-series that they are going to sell in China, also in Europe, as i3 eDrive40 and i3 M50. As an i3s owner since almost one year, it makes me sad to hear this as i was hoping for an update, and an update like you mentioned above would be amazing, i really love that car! I will most likely be ordering the i4 M50 this autumn with deliveries in my country starting February-March.

  4. Vertigo says:

    The NCM89/90/A comparison is interesting – does the NCMA design have any drawbacks that aren’t represented in the chart? The difference in cycle life, especially at 45°, is pretty extreme.

    Also – is Samsung basically just skipping NCM 811? The difference over the BMW i3 120Ah’s 622s looks like more than one generational shift.

    • Pedro Lima says:

      The comparison chart was taken from a research paper, commercial cells will definitely have higher cycle life. We need data sheets from cells with different high-nickel content battery chemistries to know the differences in more detail.

      Yes, it seems that Samsung SDI is skipping NCM 811.

  5. Rodri says:

    Hearing that Samsung is already dropping 811 in favour of a more advanced cathode brings me back to the early microproccessor development era of the 80-90s, when your new desk computer and graphic card was obsolete in 6 months. The speed of innovation on batteries in the last 10 years amazes me.

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