NIO directs its R&D projects towards LMFP batteries, to replace LFP

Sources close to the Chinese electric car manufacturer NIO assure that the company is directing its R&D projects towards lithium manganese ferrophosphate (LMFP) batteries. The cathodes of the cells of these batteries use the same chemical base as lithium ferrophosphate (LFP) but are more energy dense due to the addition of manganese. NIO thus follows in the footsteps of the CATL M3P batteries that are already being mass-produced and that could be implemented in the Tesla Model Y that is manufactured in Shanghai starting next year.

NIO has just confirmed that it has two months working on its R&D program for the development of LMFP batteries, which are becoming a alternative to NCM ternary chemicals and in LFP substitutes. Based on the information that has transpired so far, these batteries would be very similar in terms of characteristics and specifications to the CATL MP3s, as reported by the local media Late Post.

According to the experts and the information that has been filtered, this type of battery reaches 15% higher energy density that achieved by lithium iron phosphate (LFP). Theoretically, LMFP batteries can achieve a gravimetric density of between 210 and 230Wh/kg and a bulk density of 450-500Wh/litreas indicated PushEV.comwhat it means 15 to 20 percent longer than LFP batterieswithout this implying a significant difference in the cost of materials.

LFMP CATL batteries - cover
CATL LFMP batteries.

Currently, the cathode of lithium battery cells is made up of a ternary chemistry NCM rich in nickel (nickel, cobalt and manganese) or by LFP phosphate, which are gradually gaining market share, driven above all by the Chinese market. In the first half of this year, installed ternary-based batteries in China reached 45.6 GWh, accounting for 41.4% of the total, according to data released by the China Automotive Battery Innovation Alliance (CABIA) last month. This means that LFP-based batteries, with 64.4 GWh installed, 58.5% of the total, are already the most used in the world’s largest electric vehicle market.

The recent appearance of LMFP batteries seems to indicate that will gradually replace the LFP becoming the main solution for phosphate-based batteries, according to LaPost, citing sources related to the industry.

In its environmental assessment report published at the end of May, NIO revealed that it would invest 218.5 million RMB (about 32 million euros) in Shanghai, where its global headquarters are located, to build a lithium battery laboratory and a lithium battery line. cell pilot. On June 9, in a conference call after releasing its quarterly financial results report, NIO Chairman and CEO William Li confirmed that the company was willing to develop batteries for its electric cars in-house, with the aim of dispensing with third-party manufacturers. NIO currently has a 400-person team to research areas including new cell materials, new cell designs and the development of battery management systems.

Hybrid battery NIO cells NCM LFP-carrier
75 kWh capacity NIO hybrid battery pack containing ternary battery cells and LFP cells.

In recent years, all NIO’s electric cars have been using NCM ternary batteries, which are the ones commonly used in high-end models. Although these packs offer higher energy density, they also cost more to produce and are less safe than LFP batteries. For their part, these perform worse in terms of autonomy at low temperatures. Precisely, the launch of two new brands, one of a premium nature and another of high volume for the mass market, could be related to the fate of this technology.

Last September, NIO presented a hybrid battery pack with a capacity of 75 kWh containing cells NCM ternary battery and LFP cells, making NIO the first electric vehicle company to use both technologies in a single battery pack. Among its main advantages is that they provide the same performance as ternary batteries with good behavior at low temperatures, in addition to a better estimate of the remaining autonomy (SOC) thanks to the technology patented by NIO.

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