Chinese Battery Manufacturer Response to EV Growth

Battery Japan 2018: From the Keynote Sessions of BYD and CATL



In the keynote session "Latest Examples of the Accelerating Development of Next-gen Batteries" of the World Smart Energy Week 2018 [9th Battery Japan] exhibition held at the Tokyo Big Sight exhibition center on March 2nd, 2018, a couple of interesting presentations were featured from two major Chinese battery manufacturers, BYD and CATL, on the development trends on EV batteries and their approach towards the recycling business. The summary of those keynote sessions is presented in this report.

Smart Energy Week 2018
Tokyo Big Sight reception area
Battery Japan exhibition area
(Source: Sponsor Photo Gallery)

Related reports
The current situation of China's NEV market (Jan. 2018)
VW, Daimler, and BMW's NEV strategies for the Chinese market (Nov. 2017)
BYD: Leading China's EV market, pressing ahead with battery resource development (Oct. 2017)

BYD: Sustainable Growth Strategy

Below is the summary of the keynote session presentation by Mr. Tom Zhao, Managing Director, BYD Solar, BYD Company Ltd.

LFP (Lithium FerroPhosphate or lithium iron phospate) and NMC (Nickel-Manganese-Cobalt) batteries are the two mainstream chemistries for the batteries used in electric vehicles (EV). Both types use cobalt, a rare earth metal. The sales volume of EVs in China is predicted to reach 450,000 units by 2030, but the supply of cobalt cannot keep up with the increase of EVs. Along with the popularization of EVs, the number of EV buses and consumer appliances will also increase, tightening the supply of cobalt by 2021. The price of cobalt has also risen sharply and in 2017 is 3 times the price compared to the previous year. The rise in the price of cobalt also leads to a rise in the price of battery packs.

At BYD, to avert the escalating risk of cobalt supply scarcity, a multifaceted battery strategy is being accelerated. As for the NMC battery, BYD is working on technological development to improve its energy density while reducing the amount of cobalt content. As for battery recycling, BYD is conducting activities such as setting up a large-scale storage facility in Shenzhen, and collecting used batteries to re-use the energy for facilities like telecommunication stations. By various approaches to recycle/reuse, 95% recycling of cobalt is feasible.

BYD is also accelerating the use of LFP batteries. Currently in China, incentives are given for EVs with a range of more than 400 km on a single charge. Since the Zero Range Anxiety (the distance where the concern of charging the battery disappears) is set to 400 km, the LFP battery installed on the BYD e6 EV has been designed to meet this requirement. LFP is also used on EVs in the joint venture with Daimler, aiming for a range of more than 500 km. It is expected that LFP battery usage will increase first on EV bus fleets. LFP battery also will be used for power storage facilities and the SkyRail monorail system.

CATL's Strategy for EV Battery Development

Below is the summary of the keynote session presentation by Mr. Chengdu Liang, Dean of Research Institute, Contemporary Amperex Technology Co., Ltd. (CATL).

In the EV market in China, the rate of EVs with a range of more than 400 km on a single charge is predicted to reach 100% by the year 2022, from 21% in 2018 (34% by 2019, 57% by 2020, and 67% by 2021).

Safety and Reliability are the highest priorities for EV battery, but balance is needed for the improvement of energy density to extend range (High energy density), increasing the convenience of quick charging (Fast charge capability), and competitive pricing. At CATL, a 50% improvement in development efficiency was achieved using computer simulations in designing the battery cell, module, and pack.

By considering Safety and Reliability in the design phase of the battery, the appropriate materials are selected at the atomic level and with consideration for recycling. In the lifecycle prediction model of lithium batteries, termed as Design for X (Safety), data from failure models centered on temperature increases over time, and data under various driving conditions are used to simulate the cell thermal stability, usage life, and cycle life.

On cell technology, CATL will accelerate battery development to prepare for any cobalt supply shortage by gradually increasing the nickel content (from 50% in 2017 to more than 80% in 2018), while improving energy density (up by 10-15% in 2018 and 15-20% in 2019).

Regarding quick charging, CATL is targeting to achieve a 300 km range on a 15-minute charge (with a 480V, 40kWh battery pack). CATL will evaluate module and packaging technology, housing, cooling, and BMS (Battery Management System). Batteries compatible with quick charging also can be utilized for niche markets like taxis.

As for pricing, although currently CATL is not yet able to compete with internal combustion engines (ICE) without government subsidies, using smart designs and intelligent manufacturing methods, CATL will work on cost reduction through technological innovations, and pursue product development to achieve a competitive edge comparable to ICEs.

Furthermore, future cell technology research is also being conducted on new materials like sulfur and lithium metals, magnesium/zinc/sodium/aluminum battery, fuel cells, and all-solid-state battery cells. Lastly, CATL is targeting to introduce an all-solid-state battery cell in 2025.


EV, battery, BYD, CATL, electrification, electrification, electric vehicle, NMC, LFP, cobalt

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