On February 18, the media quoted a source as saying that Tesla is in contact with Ningde era to use the cobalt free battery of Ningde era on Tesla cars made in China, and the negotiation has come to an end.
Cobalt is one of the most expensive metals in automotive batteries.
If this agreement is reached, it will be the first time for Tesla to use lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries in its products. The most important reason for Tesla to focus on LFP batteries is to reduce costs.
Tesla has been in talks with Ningde for more than a year to supply LFP batteries that will cost less than existing batteries, the media said, citing sources
What is a cobalt free battery?
At present, the new energy car battery is mainly divided into two categories: lithium iron phosphate battery and lithium ternary battery.
The former refers to lithium ion batteries with lithium iron phosphate as cathode material, which are free of precious metals such as cobalt, and have the advantage of low manufacturing cost and low price.
Ternary lithium battery is a kind of lithium battery which uses nickel cobalt manganese acid as positive material and graphite as negative material. The voltage platform of this kind of battery is very high. Under the same volume or weight, the energy and power of ternary lithium battery are larger. The cost is also higher due to the use of cobalt.
Although the current price of cobalt is far below the record high, the price of more than $30000 per ton still makes the metal the most expensive raw material for lithium-ion batteries (the chart is from LME)
Tesla is at a critical stage. How to reduce the cost is the most important issue for musk to consider. Whether we choose to build a factory in Shanghai or focus on cobalt free batteries, the most important reason for Tesla to turn to cobalt free batteries from the perspective of cost reduction is the low cost of such batteries.
At present, the cost of lithium iron phosphate is 0.65 yuan / wh, far lower than 0.85 yuan / wh of ternary battery. At the same time, lithium iron phosphate has better safety performance and will have stronger competitiveness in low-cost vehicle competition.
In addition, the energy density of the cobalt-free battery can be increased rapidly, and the CTP of the blade battery can increase the volume of the single core / battery pack from 45% to more than 60%, greatly reducing the space and increasing the vehicle range.
In terms of production, there is no need to build a large number of new production lines for cobalt free batteries: lithium iron phosphate technology has been widely used in buses with sufficient capacity.
In terms of safety performance, lithium iron phosphate battery is also better, with few accidents such as deflagration.
Technological advances have also prompted Tesla to set its sights on cobalt-free batteries
At present, the rapid technological progress in the field of cobalt-free batteries also raises the possibility that electric car manufacturers, including Tesla, will look away from ternary lithium batteries to cobalt-free batteries.
Many manufacturers use the safety redundancy of lithium iron phosphate to make up for the lack of energy density. For example, the CTP technology in Ningde era, namely cell to pack, reduces the production of parts and components. The energy density of battery can reach 200wh / kg. Similarly, BYD's blade battery technology can increase the bulk density by 50%.
Some analysts say the two technologies are among the most systematic among battery companies in 2019
In terms of commercialization, Ningde times and BAIC have reached a strategic cooperation on CTP application, and BYD's blade battery will be the first to be used in this car in March this year.
will tesla fully turn to cobalt-free batteries?
Although Tesla has given up on cobalt free batteries, this does not mean that Tesla will completely abandon the three-way battery.
Tesla's own battery is the three-way battery. Compared with the cobalt free battery, the three-way battery has better battery management system (BMS) and stronger endurance. Therefore, the industry points out that even if Tesla will invest cobalt free batteries in some models, users will more agree with Tesla's three-way technology and naturally prefer the three-way battery Tesla.
Zeng Biao, an analyst at Haitong Securities, thinks:
The effect of blade battery on lithium iron phosphate is revolutionary, which solves the problem of volume energy density of lithium iron, so that the 400-500km passenger car can use lithium iron, while the previous chassis can not be installed. But the blade battery is just a technological innovation, the electrochemical material itself has not changed, and the defects of lithium iron phosphate material itself have not changed. Chemical technology upgrading has just begun, iron and lithium have lagged behind, and the follow-up is still lagging behind.