Sedate Sunday: Battle of the Batteries

Tesla has been in the forefront of fully electric vehicles (EV) at a time when most of the major car manufacturers only fitfully dabbled with short-range plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) and battery electric vehicles (BEV). Now that Li-ion batteries Tesla builds into battery packs at their Gigafactory have become standard, the automotive industry has essentially abandoned the older BEV battery approaches and embraced Li-ion.

The pursuit of energy dense batteries to increase range may take a left turn, however, due to cost. You see, the batteries used by all the EV car manufacturers today use cobalt in the batteries (Tesla uses Li-NCA — most others use Li-NMC), and cobalt is costly. So Tesla is now considering a less energy dense LFP (lithium iron phosphate) battery manufactured by Contemporary Amperex Technology Company¬†(CATC, Fujian¬†Province, China) for their Chinese Tesla EVs that does not require cobalt. In addition, instead of the current module packaging strategy, the cells would be bundled tightly directly, which CATC claims will result in an energy-dense battery pack comparable to current module-based battery packs using cobalt. This will take the battle of the batteries to a whole new level.