Long-suffering cobalt bulls were dealt another blow on Wednesday after reports that the world’s largest electric carmaker is shifting some production of its most popular model away from batteries that contain nickel and cobalt.
In a surprise move, China’s top battery manufacturer CATL will supply Tesla with lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries for its Model 3 production at its newly built $2 billion factory outside Shanghai.
The Model 3 is Tesla’s most popular, and the US-made version uses the company’s nickel-cobalt-aluminum (NCA) cathode chemistry. Most other automakers favour nickel-cobalt-manganese (NCM) cathode chemistries.
LFP batteries are cheaper than batteries using NCA and NCM chemistries but lack the energy density, reducing driving range. LFP batteries power almost the entire electric bus fleet in China and are popular for smaller city runabout vehicles where range is not an issue.
According to Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, a battery supply chain and price reporting company, cobalt played no part in Tesla’s decision to use LFP cells:
For the rest of this column: https://www.mining.com/teslas-china-surprise-big-blow-for-cobalt-nickel-price-bulls/