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Rivian, GM, Ford and more

Rivian, GM, Ford and more
  • Tesla, Ford, Rivian and their EV competitors depend on batteries for an edge over their competition.
  • Different battery assemblies can provide different EV ranges, performance, and charging rates.
  • Here’s a look at the “secret sauce” major automakers hope to use to get ahead.

Batteries are the best way for automakers to differentiate themselves from their electric car competitors. And with everyone pouring billions of dollars into offering electric cars and racing to gain market share, the decisions they make about their power packs can determine or break their electric future.

A battery, its composition, and how it’s built all play a role in how an EV performs, how far it can go on a charge, and how fast it charges — all critical to potential buyers.

So car companies evaluate different types of EV batteries on three key attributes: the competitive advantage, the supply chain and different needs of different vehicles.

There are of course tradeoffs. One chemistry may be a cheaper option but be less energy efficient and therefore give the vehicle less range. A battery makeup that has more range is likely to be more expensive.

But by switching from traditional lithium-ion batteries and using lithium iron phosphate (LFP) or solid-state batteries instead, automakers can gain an edge over their challengers.

“Any company that can overcome these performance barriers with chemicals that don’t contain scarce materials,” said former Guidehouse research analyst Maria Chavez, “will truly come out on top.”

Certain battery assemblies may require materials that are not available due to current shortages. Therefore, the use of different chemicals can also reduce the pressure on the supply chain.

“By designing the cells in different ways and the batteries in different ways, you can reduce some of the amount of material that ultimately needs to be consumed,” said David Deak, a former Tesla Gigafactory executive who is now a board member of the EV industry. became a consultant.

Different battery assemblies can be beneficial for different usage situations. For example, the correct formula for a supercar may differ from the mix that is best for a daily driver.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if solid-state batteries are used in those kinds of vehicles where your customers will be users who absolutely want super-long-range and super-fast, very powerful cars,” Deak added, “but they won’t be using those cars on a daily basis.” using it in a way that requires a long life, using the vehicle constantly, cycling the batteries on and off where you need them for thousands and thousands of charges…discharge cycles.”

Here’s a look at how some automakers and startups differentiate themselves with their batteries.

Tesla

Tesla originally used nickel-cobalt-aluminium batteries, but has been planned ever since which are exclusively for cars with a longer range. It now uses LFP in standard range vehicles.

“To move to an iron-based chemistry, which has finally gotten to the point where it’s competitive in terms of range combined with an efficient powertrain, I think that’s going to be the vast majority of batteries going forward.” CEO Elon Musk said at a shareholder meeting last October, according to a Sentieo transcript.

In recent months, Musk has sounded the alarm about the impending lithium shortage, saying that refining the material is like “minting money” and urging entrepreneurs to go into space. As a result, the EV giant may be looking for ways to reduce its reliance on the material. He has also expressed concern about reducing cobalt.

“Tesla uses no cobalt in the iron phosphate packages and almost none in the nickel-based chemicals,” Musk said last July. “We expect to have basically zero cobalt in the future.

“This is actually good because there is enough iron in the world,” he added. “There’s a lot less nickel and there’s a lot less cobalt, so it’s good for long-term flaking relief to go mainly to iron-based cells.”

Rivian production

Rivian production

Rivian


Rivian

Wall Street darling Rivian said in March it would include new types of battery cells for its vehicles.

Given the performance differences between chemicals, Rivian said, like Tesla, it would use batteries made with LFP chemistry for its standard-level vehicles, and those with high nickel content for its longer-range vehicles.

“By expanding our cell and packaging technology roadmaps to include both high nickel and LFP cells, we will expand our available offerings while reducing costs,” the company said in March. shareholder letter.

Rivian emphasized that the LFP chemistry delivers cost savings and ultimately “offers consumers a more affordable entry-level price to explore the world in a Rivian vehicle”.

Ford

Portion of the Ford plans to spend $50 billion on EV development through 2026 will go to evaluating the types of batteries best for its electric lineup, which now includes the Mustang Mach-E and F-150 Lightning.

the car manufacturer said in July it would continue to use a nickel-cobalt-manganese blend, but also begin to include LFP batteries in its portfolio.

Ford also has a solid state piece: The company invested in solid-state battery startup, Solid Power, alongside BMW in a $130 million round in 2021.

“Solid-state battery technology is important to the future of electric vehicles, which is why we are investing directly,” Ted Miller, Ford’s manager of electrification subsystems and power supply research, said in a statement at the time.

“By simplifying the design of solid-state batteries versus lithium-ion batteries, we can increase vehicle range, improve interior space and cargo volume, provide lower costs and greater value for customers, and integrate these types of solid-state batteries more efficiently. in existing lithium-ion cell manufacturing processes,” Miller added.

2023 GM Cadillac Lyriq starts production

2023 GM Cadillac Lyriq starts production

JD Adams for General Motors


General Motors… and Honda

GM is Spending $35 Billion on EVs through 2025, supported by the new GMC Hummer truck, Cadillac LYRIQ and Chevrolet Silverado pickup.

GM’s Ultium battery cells use a nickel-cobalt-manganese-aluminium chemistry.

But the car manufacturer, who announced earlier this year it would partner with Honda to co-develop affordable EVs, has also talked about expanding this team with battery work. The two discuss the development of solid-state batteries given the power, cost and safety benefits that come with this mix. Bloomberg reported:.

“We’re looking at all chemicals across the board,” GM CFO Paul Jacobson said at a Deutsche Bank conference in June, per Sentieo. “What we need to do is measure against the energy density and obviously a lower range but lower cost to go with an equivalent kind of battery cell.

“We want to be careful not to rely too much on long-term decisions about short-term data,” Jacobson added. “But at the same time, we need to be aware of what’s happening in the market.”

Stellantis

The car company that emerged from a merger between Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and the French PSA Group, Stellantis, is also experimenting with solid-state.

It signed a joint development agreement with, and investment in, solid-state battery startup Factorial Energy late last year.

Stellantis is Putting $35.5 billion in EVs until 2025.

The Volkswagen ID.4 is built in a factory in Germany.

The Volkswagen ID.4 is built in a factory in Germany.

Jan Woitas/photo alliance via Getty Images


Volkswagen

Volkswagen, the automaker behind the ID.4, has largely dependent on lithium-ion batteries for its EVs.

But Volkswagen has channeled some of Tesla’s energy, saying last year it was a… LFP makeup to lower the price of an “entry-level” car, Reuters reported.

“In terms of range, there are pluses and minuses,” Volkswagen CFO Arno Antlitz said in a profit call in July. He noted that both chemistries “will play an important role in the future.”

“The package of our cars and the packages of our batteries are designed so that we can use both chemicals in the cars and even in the same car,” he said.

The company has also invested $300 million in solid-state battery manufacturer QuantumScape.

Andrew Han contributed to the reporting.