The other day, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of China (MIIT) has released a new catalog of recommended electric car models, which now includes the Tesla Model 3 version on cobalt-free batteries. It is cheaper, safer, allows you to do without the “bloody minerals”, but increases the weight of the battery and equipped machine.
It is expected that in China, deliveries of the Tesla Model 3 version on cobalt-free batteries will begin from mid-July to August. The battery supplier is likely to be the Chinese company Modern Amperex Technology, known worldwide as CATL. The curb weight of the Tesla Model 3 with cobalt-free batteries reaches 1745 kg, while the weight of the same model on LG Chem’s NCM811 nickel-manganese-cobalt batteries is 1614 kg.
The main criticism of batteries using cobalt is that child labor is used to mine it in mines in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where cobalt is predominantly mined. It should also be borne in mind that cobalt reserves on Earth are limited, and supplies can be difficult. Therefore, the industry is forced to look for an alternative to cobalt, although the density of stored energy in non-cobalt batteries is lower. To achieve parity with NCM batteries, cobalt-free batteries have to be made larger and heavier, and this is a direct way to reduce range.
Typically, cobalt-free lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries are used in buses and commercial vehicles, while passenger vehicles use batteries made with nickel, cobalt and manganese. From Tesla we can expect that weighting the batteries will be the only victim that the company had to make, and the range of the model will not decrease. However, cobalt-free battery models can be offered at better prices. Let’s wait for the start of sales.
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