WSJ: Auto Makers Shift to Lower-Cost Batteries for Electric Vehicles

In the race to build a more affordable electric car, auto makers are turning to a lower-cost battery type that could lead to less-expensive options, but deliver less driving range.

> > Several major car companies plan to deploy lithium-iron-phosphate batteries, known as LFP, a type commonly used in China, the world’s largest market for electric cars. Those iron-based battery cells cost less than the nickel-and-cobalt combination used widely in North America and Europe.

Tesla Inc., Ford Motor Co. , Rivian Automotive Inc. and other auto makers say LFP could tamp down electric-vehicle costs by sidestepping the use of pricey and scarce minerals like nickel and cobalt. But the move also requires them to manage performance trade-offs and thorny supply-chain issues.


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Changes in how iron-based battery cells are packaged inside the vehicle have helped extend driving ranges. These batteries also have a lower risk of fire, analysts say.

Advances in the battery-cell technology should eventually allow midsize SUVs using iron-based batteries to achieve more than 300 miles of driving range on a single charge, said Tim Bush, an equity analyst who leads global EV battery research at UBS Group AG .

He now expects EVs equipped with LFP batteries to account for 40% of the global market by 2030, up from a previous forecast of 15%.

LFP seems to be the future. ICL just announced a new LFP cathodes plant in St Louis. LFP also involved in the new Koch investment.

Requires battery grade lithium hydroxide. Most still made in China. Others have plans but no construction in the US so far.


Lots of lithium news today

SQM reported record volumes and strong earnings but rumors of falling demand due to recession or end of subsidies are causing lithium prices to fall. SQM conference call reported major expansions in the works including lithium hydroxide in Chile.

The conference call had an excellent slide presentation showing many details. Could not find it again but this from a presentation in August.

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Looking over the Lithium daily, weekly, and monthly charts. Caution: the daily just suffered a breakdown, but the weekly and monthly suggest patience for a build into consolidation:

Although LIT is the lithium (and battery) etf, it’s heavy in Chinese stocks and not a good indicator of the market. The leaders in lithium are SQM, Albemarle, and Livent. If you plot their charts on Yahoo Finance you find that LIT is the worst performer. Three month data: ALB 0.74%, SQM -4.0, LTHM -8, LIT -14.

All four peaked on Nov 11 when people decided that lithium and EVs may not be recession resistant.