Blade runners: how LFP batteries brought EV metal markets back to earth – by Frik Els ( – January 5, 2024)

It’s January 2024, and unfortunately for said cobalt and nickel bulls the blow from the iron fist is even more severe than feared. And the runaway success has become a battery-powered juggernaut.

During that month nearly four years ago when Elon Musk first announced the move to LFP batteries, the cathode chemistry contributed less than 50 tonnes to overall battery metal demand, according to Adamas Intelligence, Toronto-based research consultants tracking demand for EV batteries by chemistry, cell supplier and capacity in over 110 countries.

The 50 tonnes LFP batteries used were a fraction of the nearly 13,000 tonnes of lithium, graphite, nickel, manganese and cobalt that found their way into the batteries of electric passenger cars sold during February 2020.

NCM (nickel-cobalt-manganese) and Tesla-Panasonic’s NCA (nickel-cobalt-aluminum) dominated the market for electric cars at the time. LFP fares badly against ternary cathode batteries in terms of energy and power density and therefore charging time and range. LFP’s cold weather performance is also significantly worse, but is hard to beat when it comes to cost, is better at thermal stability not catching fire and lifespan.

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