Why LFP batteries are poised to drive down entry-level EV prices – TechCrunch
Older, cheaper and the safer battery technology that already dominates China’s electric vehicle industry is now poised to reshape battery manufacturing around the world and drive electric vehicle sales in the United States – if the global supply of lithium remains stable.
A slew of patents for lithium-iron-phosphate (LFP) chemicals that will expire in 2022 could change the face of battery production in the United States and Europe.
China has held the market for nearly a decade due to an agreement with the patent holders – a consortium of universities in the United States and Canada – that allows Chinese manufacturers to use them to supply local markets. Meanwhile, manufacturers outside China have focused on developing other lithium-ion chemistries to power their electric vehicles, as their higher energy density translates to longer range on the road.
The LFP already accounts for 17% of the global electric vehicle market and represents a potential path for the mass market, according to the AlixPartners 2022 Global Automotive Outlook report published on Wednesday.
Indeed, universal access to patents, coupled with escalating battery raw material prices, is driving many automakers to focus on the benefits of iron-based batteries. For starters, they cost less, don’t use rare raw materials like cobalt and nickel, and are less likely to catch fire.
There have been warnings that a looming shortage of lithium supply could cut forecast global EV sales in 2030 to 25 million EVs from a projected 40 million, according to a report by Advanced Propulsion on Tuesday. Center, a partnership between the UK government and car manufacturers. .
However, that didn’t seem to stop the momentum towards LFPs. Even though a lithium bottleneck is slowing production, the battery chemistry is still easier to produce than the NMC (nickel-manganese-cobalt) the industry currently favors because those metals are also rare.
The same organization predicts that a quarter of electric vehicles built in Europe will use LFP. Industry analysts have also become bullish on the outlook for LFPs, projecting that iron-based batteries will power entry-level and less expensive vehicles, while nickel-based cells will be used for high-end, performance cars.
LFP batteries could play an important role in the 250 battery-electric nameplates that will arrive in the United States through 2030, according to Edgar Faler, senior industry analyst at the Center for Automotive Research. Chemicals is also well suited to the growing demand for light and medium duty vehicles capable of delivering goods in urban areas.
“For the foreseeable future, there will be a number of different chemistries competing to be the chemistry of choice,” Faler said.