Cobalt, nickel free electric car batteries are a runaway success – by Frik Els ( – March 11, 2021)

A year ago, Tesla surprised the electric car industry when it announced some Model 3s made in its Shanghai factory will be equipped with lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries made by China’s Contemporary Amperex Technology (CATL).

While cheaper to manufacture, LFP seemed at odds with Tesla’s sporty, luxury image. Apart from buses and special purpose vehicles, LFP is associated with tiny (and probably tinny) city runabouts like Wuling‘s Hong Guang Mini EV (jv with GM) which this year overtook the Model 3 as China’s bestselling EV.

NCM (nickel-cobalt-manganese) and NCA (nickel-cobalt-aluminum) dominate the market for electric cars and LFP fares badly against ternary cathode batteries in terms of energy density – and therefore range and charging.

Due to the technology’s shortcomings, there were doubts whether the LFP Model 3 would qualify for full Chinese subsidies, which kick in above 165Wh/kg. No subsidy would negate savings made on the battery.

Isn’t it iron

Fast forward to today, and Tesla’s gamble has been an unqualified success.

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