LFP vs NMC Lithium Ion Batteries for EVs

Batteries are a big thing for electric vehicles. They determine the range, efficiency, longevity and power of your car.

Ever since Tesla began their dominance of the EV automotive industry, it has been all about NMC lithium ion batteries.

Note: By the way, NMC stands for Nickel, Manganese and Cobalt, which are specific elements used in the cathode of these batteries. LFP stands for Lithium Iron Phosphate, again, the chemical elements in the batteries. The actual chemical symbol is as follows: LiFePO4.

However, like with everything in tech, things change, new options become available, and the same thing has happened with EV batteries.

Researchers and battery developers like BYD, CATL, LG and Panasonic are always looking for the next big thing. A cheaper battery with lots of great properties like LFP batteries is one of those great finds.

Of course, there are pros and cons to any lithium battery, so let’s take a look at the main differences.

The Main Difference Between LFP vs NMC Batteries

LFP Batteries
LFP Batteries in Use For Power Storage – From Wikimedia

The biggest advantages of LFP batteries over Nickel-based Lithium Iron batteries are their cost, safety, and longevity/high cycle-life of them. The biggest downside is the energy density, which means they are less well suited for high-powered or longer-range electric vehicles.

One of the other main advantages of Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries is that they don’t use the more exotic and expensive chemicals like nickel and cobalt. Especially when two-thirds of the world’s cobalt is from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. A country not renowned for its stability and human rights. And there are a large number of large, unregulated mines there, which often use minors and have a large accident rate.

Advantages & Disadvantages of NMC Lithium Iron Batteries

On the other hand, other Lithium Iron batteries like NMC have big advantages that are hard to ignore. They have a larger voltage, so more power, and a better energy density.

This means they can be used in vehicles that need more power and acceleration. Tesla uses them in the more upmarket vehicles like the Plaid Model S and more powerful Model 3 and Model Ys.

The downsides of nickel are the cost, but also the instability of the chemistry. Nickel is great at providing higher power in the Lithium Ion batteries, and also displacing some of the cobalt, but it comes at a cost. They are less stable and more prone to temperatures and often have shorter lifespans.

Of course, Tesla has spent over a decade working on NMC battery technology, so they know how to manage them for great battery longevity and power.

tesla megapack
LFP Batteries in Megapacks

Ever since Tesla decided to start using LFP batteries from CATL, they seem to have become significantly more popular in the EV industry. So much so, that figuring out your Lithium suppliers is of the utmost importance to an EV company nowadays.

Tesla uses them to keep the cost of their vehicles lower as well as solve the “no more cobalt” problem. Although they are often heavier and less suited to their more premium electric cars, they can use them in the lower-end models as well as in their battery storage solutions. This means we will see them in Megapacks and Powerwalls moving forward.

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