Where Is The Electric Car Battery Market Heading
- Wesleyan University, University of California, Berkeley
David Kuchta, Ph.D. has 10 years of experience in gardening and has read widely in environmental history and the energy transition. An environmental activist since the 1970s, he is also a historian, author, gardener, and educator.
- University of Tennessee
Electric vehicle batteries have come a long way since the first electric vehicles were invented in the 1830s. Modern electric vehicles run on lithium-ion batteries, which were introduced in 1991.
As the EV battery and energy storage markets grow, manufacturers continue to experiment with chemistries, configurations, and production processeswith the common goal of creating more efficient batteries that last longer, cost less, and have a lower environmental impact. What goes into an EV battery is already changing and is likely to continue to change over the next decades.
Making The Battery Cell
The first thing to point out is that a battery cell which goes into an electric car is not a round, circular battery like we use in our home electrics . A round battery would not be a very efficient use of space so instead a flat-cell battery cell is produced.
This is made up of multiple sheets of cathode, anode and separator which can then be stacked on top of each other like the filling in a Subway! This end result is a cubic shape which is then packaged into an aluminium and plastic frame.
With that said, lets back up a bit and drill down into the detail. The first thing is to create the sheets of cathode and anode, which arrive in the factory as a big metallic calender roll :
This then goes through a set of processes:
Faster Charging And Longer Range
In a conventional lithium-ion battery, one of the two electrodes, the anode, is made mostly from graphite. This is a form of carbon that can easily take up and release the charged lithium ions that shuttle back and forth between the anode and cathode through the electrolyte. That stream of charged particles produces an electric current, which flows out of the battery to power whatever needs powering. But the graphite is merely a host for the lithium ions, which nestle in between sheets of carbon like packages on shelves. Its dead weight that doesnt store energy or produce a current itself.
In a lithium-metal battery, the anode itself is made from lithium. This means that nearly every atom in the batterys anode can also be put to work creating current. Theoretically, a lithium-metal anode-based battery could store 50% more energy than one of the same weight and volume that relied on graphite.
However, because lithium metal is so reactive, being in constant contact with a liquid electrolyte can trigger reactions that degrade the battery or cause it to combust, says Venkat Viswanathan, an associate professor at Carnegie Mellon who works on lithium-metal batteries and is a consultant for QuantumScape. Another issue is that as the lithium ions flow back and forth, needle-like structures known as dendrites can form in the batteries and short-circuit the cell or cause it to catch fire.
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How Do Electric Car Batteries Work
Where internal combustion engined cars get energy from burning petrol or diesel, an electric vehicle gets its power directly from a big pack of batteries.
These are much like a scaled up version of the lithium-ion battery in your mobile phone – EVs don’t use a single battery like a phone, they use instead a pack which is comprised of thousands of individual Li-ion cells working together. When the car’s charging up, electricity is used to make chemical changes inside its batteries. When it’s on the road, these changes are reversed to produce electricity.
What Happens In The Hydrogen Fuel Cell Stack
The structure of the fuel cell is similar to a battery. The hydrogen enters the anode where it comes in contact with a catalyst, which is usually platinum. This catalyst promotes the separation of hydrogen atoms into a hydrogen ion and an electron.
The hydrogen then passes through an electrolyte membrane to reach the cathode while the electron travels through the circuit, producing electricity to power the motor. At the end of the circuit, the electrons combine with the hydrogen ions and oxygen to form water as a byproduct.
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Catl Remains The Largest Battery Manufacturer By Capacity
As you can see from the pie chart above, CATL takes the top spot with its name on 32.6% of all EV batteries installed in 2021. In 2021 alone, CATLs installed power battery capacity was 96.7 GWh up from 36.2 GWh a year prior thats an increase of 167.13%.
You may also notice a battle between China and South Korea within the top six spots on the list, as LG Energy Solution, SK On, and Samsung SDI claim spots two, five, and six respectively. CATLs fellow Chinese manufacturer BYD took fourth.
Lastly, Panasonic is representing Japan by taking bronze for 2021. Every other company in the world holds a piece of the EV battery pie that is less than 3% of the entire market.
With a whole bunch of new EV models scheduled to debut this year and beyond, the demand for EV batteries has never been higher. Who will claim the title of worlds largest battery manufacturer next year? LG Energy Solution? Panasonic? Time will tell.
How Safe Are Electric Car Batteries
The manufacturers of batteries for electric cars go to great lengths to make sure EV batteries are safe, fitting smart management systems to prevent overheating and other problems. Batteries do get warm as they charge and discharge, but cars are designed to keep them cool high performance EVs sometimes have liquid cooling systems to help.
Despite this, there have been some cases of electric cars catching fire, but very few of these incidents have been caused by battery failures. More typically they’ve resulted from accidents or incidents that might have caused any vehicle to catch fire – such as the 2013 case of a Tesla Model S which hit a large piece of metal at high speed. Commenting on that incident, which resulted in a limited fire, Tesla CEO Elon Musk pointed out that EV batteries contain only about a tenth of the energy of a tank full of fuel, limiting the danger they pose in an accident.
In fact, a 2017 study by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that the likelihood and severity of fires from lithium-ion batteries was comparable to, or slightly less than that from conventional vehicles. As more electric vehicles take to the roads, we can be increasingly sure they’re as safe as the conventional cars they replace.
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Will Hydrogen Cars Replace Battery Electric Cars
While hydrogen-powered cars show some potential in being a viable option for us, hydrogen cars and gas refueling are still prohibitively expensive for most consumers. Due to the rapid advancements in the BEV sector, BEVs are also years ahead of their hydrogen counterparts.
That said, several companies such as Toyota and Hyundai along with hydrogen manufacturers and governments are paving the way to improve hydrogen technology. At least for now, the advantages of hydrogen work better for larger commercial vehicles compared to passenger cars. This means that hydrogen FCEVs can exist alongside BEVs albeit in different vehicle segments.
Plus, most countries, including Malaysia, already have some level of EV recharging infrastructure. Thats why its unlikely that well see hydrogen passenger cars here any time soon. That being said, we dont know what the future holds, so never say never!
Every Electric Semi Truck In One Graphic
Electric semi trucks are coming, and they could help to decarbonize the shipping and logistics industry. However, range remains a major limitation.
This presents challenges for long-hauling, where the average diesel-powered semi can travel up to 2,000 miles before refueling. Compare this to the longest range electric model, the Tesla Semi, which promises up to 500 miles. A key word here is promisesthe Semi is still in development, and nothing has been proven yet.
In this infographic, weve listed all of the upcoming electric semi trucks, complete with range and charge time estimates. Further in the article, well explore the potential commercial use cases of this first generation of trucks.
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Four Companies Leading The Rise Of Lithium & Battery Technology
Electric vehicles are upending the status quo of internal combustion vehicles , just like ICE vehicles once displaced the horse-drawn carriage. Fueling this shift to electric power requires next-generation battery technology and an ample supply of lithium, the key raw material for lithium-ion batteries.
While many people may be familiar with EV pioneer Tesla, there is an entire ecosystem of battery producers and lithium mining firms that are playing critical roles in this transformation. At a high level, the industrys ecosystem starts upstream with lithium miners that extract the metal from the earth. These raw materials then move into the chemical conversion process to produce lithium carbonate or lithium hydroxide. Battery producers combine carbonate or hydroxide with materials to form a cathode and an anode, together forming an individual battery cell. Thousands of cells may be combined to create a battery pack for an EV.
In this piece, we highlight four companies that represent key players in this ecosystem:
- Ganfeng Lithium: A leading Chinese lithium mining company that has evolved into refining and processing lithium, battery manufacturing, and recycling.
- Panasonic: A top-3 global EV battery manufacturer from Japan.
- Livent: A top-5 lithium producer from the US.
- Contemporary Amperex Technology Limited : A top-3 EV battery manufacturer from China.
Ganfeng Lithium: A Vertically Integrated Lithium Producer
Panasonic: Teslas Longtime Partner
The Company Has Quite A Diversified Strategy In Terms Of Cell Format Cathode Chemistry And Suppliers
Tesla is the world’s largest electric car manufacturer and many wonder what batteries the company uses. Is there a secret battery type that allows it to achieve success?
Well, if we look at almost 20 years of Tesla, it seems that the secret lies not in a particular battery, but in the approach – very pragmatic, flexible, geared to constant evolution, adaptation, and looking for opportunities.
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Other Top Ev Battery Manufacturers
Though Americans are adopting battery-powered vehicles at a slower rate than Chinese consumers, our appetite for electric and battery-electric cars still continues to grow. It certainly accounts for some of LG Energy Solution’s sales success, as the South Korean company supplies battery components to the likes of Lucid, Porsche, and Tesla. Credit the latter automaker for much of LG Energy Solution’s growth, as booming sales of the Tesla Model 3 and Model Y in Europe and China helped the South Korean company move its batteries into Tesla buyers’ driveways and garages.
LG Energy Solution is also a key stakeholder in Ultium Cells, a joint venture between it and General Motors with a finished factory in Warren, Ohio. Additionally, factories in Spring Hill, Tennessee, and Lansing, Michigan, are underway. Ultium batteries currently power the likes of the GMC Hummer EV and Cadillac Lyriq.
While LG Energy Solution is sure to increase its global battery production in the coming months and years, its 29.2 gigawatt hours worth of batteries sold throughout the first half of the year is less than half of what CATL moved. Its also just 5.2 gigawatt hours more than what BYD sold during this same period. BYDs 24.0 gigawatt hours worth of batteries sold in the first half of 2022 marks a jaw-dropping increase of more than 200 percent compared to what the company sold during the same time period in 2021.
Cost Of Manufacturing Electric Car Batteries
The cost of an electric car battery now accounts for more than 30 percent of the total value of the vehicle. The reason for this is the high price of the rare-earth elements that are required to make the battery lithium, nickel, cobalt and magnesium, among others. Expenses associated with the extraction of these elements account for more than half of the cost of the entire battery. In addition, the price of EV batteries is also affected by the need to use additional elements in the construction, which are designed to prevent electrical breakdown and protect sensitive battery components.
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Who Makes Batteries For Ford Electric Cars
Previously SK Innovation was supplying batteries for Ford Motor co. but after the lawsuit accusation from LG chem, SK Innovation was forced to exit the U.S. market.
LG chem accused SK of stealing LGs battery-related trade secrets. But eventually, LG won the legal battle against SK Innovation which led SK to lose its access in theU.S. However, SK will able to continue its domestic business contracts.
Putting It All Together: The Battery Pack
Finally, we have the battery pack: where the battery cells are all housed together, cooled via the cooling system and managed by the power management system . The overall frame will be made from a mix of metal and also plastic. The various components will be welded and/or bolted into place. The end result might look like the following Tesla batteries:
Or like the following mock-up of a Nissan Leaf :
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What Is In An Ev Battery
An EV battery is a pack of individual battery cells, each about the size of a AA battery. Those cells are clustered into protective frames called modules, each with its own circuitry, and those modules are clustered together into a pack.
The entire pack is managed by a Battery Management System and a cooling system that regulates the heat and voltage, protects the battery from draining too much or too quickly, and manages the charging and discharging of energy.
EV batteries work by moving lithium ions through a solution called an electrolyte, which carries positively charge ions between separate electrodes called anodes and cathodes. This process creates an electric current that is sent to the EV’s motor.
What the electrodes, separators, and electrolytes are made of can vary. Lithium is the indispensable element, of course, but among the most frequently used other components are aluminum, carbon, cobalt, iron, manganese, nickel, oxygen, phosphorus, and silicon. New combinations and chemistries emerge all the time, using other elements like sodium or tin and sulfur.
Tanaphot Iamjaro / Getty Images
Battery Testing And Fulfillment:
Each battery is subject to extensive automated tests and quality checks before being deemed fit for shipping. The only two companies in America able to produce batteries on a sufficient scale are LG Chem and Samsung SDI, both of which are responsible for supplying batteries to various models of Tesla vehicles.
They provide power packs capable of delivering up to 130 kilowatt-hours of energy. At present, Panasonic manufactures battery cells and packs used in Model S and Model X, but does not directly supply them only installs them into final modules. The automaker has been working with many different battery suppliers since 2008 when it was first granted approval from California state authorities for its business model. Read more best lithium batteries
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For Many Years Nissan Has Been Working On The Development Of Lithium
Lithium-ion batteries have higher energy densities than lead-acid batteries or nickel-metal hydride batteries, so it is possible to make the battery size smaller than others while retaining the same storage capacity.
Nissan’s Lithium-ion battery technology uses materials which allow a higher density of lithium ions to be stored. This results in an increase in travel distance.
The Curse Of ‘white Oil’: Electric Vehicles’ Dirty Secret
The race is on to find a steady source of lithium, a key component in rechargeable electric car batteries. But while the EU focuses on emissions, the lithium gold rush threatens environmental damage on an industrial scale
Even before the new mine became the main topic of village conversation, João Cassote, a 44-year-old livestock farmer, was thinking about making a change. Living off the land in his mountainous part of northern Portugal was a grind. Of his close childhood friends, he was the only one who hadnt gone overseas in search of work. So, in 2017, when he heard of a British company prospecting for lithium in the region of Trás-os-Montes, Cassote called his bank and asked for a 200,000 loan. He bought a John Deere tractor, an earthmover and a portable water-storage tank.
The exploration team of the UK-based mining company Savannah Resources had spent months poring over geological maps and surveys of the hills that ripple out from Cassotes farm. Initial calculations indicated that they could contain more than 280,000 tonnes of lithium, a silver-white alkali metal enough for 10 years production. Cassote got in touch with Savannahs local office, and the mining firm duly contracted him to supply water to their test drilling site. The return on his investment was swift. After less than 12 months on the companys books, Cassote had made what he would usually earn in five or six years on the farm.
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