As reported by South Korean sources, lithium battery giants LG Chem, Samsung SDI and SK Innovation are anxiously awaiting the September 22 event Tesla Battery Day… Tesla is rumored to introduce revolutionary high-capacity, cobalt-free traction batteries. If this happens, the world of battery manufacturers will literally turn upside down.
The only mass-produced lithium-containing batteries without cobalt (in the cathode material) are lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries. At the same time, in terms of the density of stored energy and, consequently, the mass and range of travel on a single charge, LFP batteries are noticeably inferior to batteries on cathodes using cobalt. Because of this, LG Chem, Samsung SDI and SK Innovation do not see any prospects in LFP batteries and are betting on NMC (nickel, manganese, cobalt) or NCA (nickel, cobalt, aluminum) batteries.
Tesla, in contrast, is increasing its purchases of LFP batteries from Chinese manufacturer CATL. This baffles the same company LG Chem, which is considered the largest supplier of batteries for Tesla’s electric vehicles. LG Chem still cannot understand why more and more batteries are being bought for the Tesla Model 3 with an obviously worse aggregate set of characteristics? The answer to this question should be heard on September 22 at Tesla Battery Day, if the event is not rescheduled again due to the coronavirus pandemic.
While the experts are at a loss: whether Tesla gets significantly improved LFP batteries, it is no longer inferior by the density of the stored energy of batteries with cobalt electrodes, or Tesla or its partners have developed some kind of revolutionary technology for a significant reduction of cobalt volume in the cathodes. In any case, in the new world of cobalt-free batteries, the bet on cobalt and cobalt-containing batteries could cost South Korean manufacturers a loss in the top spots in the battery market and a new rise for Chinese manufacturers. Intrigue!
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