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Your Guide to the EV Battery Landscape

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Jan. 6, 2021—Electric vehicles are becoming increasingly more popular as drivers look to save money and do their part to help out the planet, but what is powering these green machines? 

OEMs are racing to develop the most efficient electric vehicle, but it all comes down to one vital piece of equipment—the battery. 

These aren’t the old lead acid varieties. Dive into this handy guide into the new world of vehicle batteries and where they’re currently generating power.

 

Lithium-ion Battery

Lithium-ion batteries are the most commonly used batteries in electric cars today. According to Energy Sage, lithium-ion batteries have a high power-to-weight ratio, meaning they hold a lot of energy compared to their weight, “which is vital for electric cars.”

Lithium-ion batteries are also quick charging, according to KinStar, and have a very low self-discharge rate, meaning the battery has a long shelf life.  

Models that run off of lithium-ion batteries include the Nissan Leaf, Kia Soul, Tesla Model 3, upcoming Mustang Mach-E, and countless others. 

The primary drawback to lithium-ion batteries is the price of production, costing 40 percent higher to manufacture than nickel batteries. 

 

Nickel-metal Hydride Battery 

Nickel-metal hydride batteries are most commonly used in hybrid vehicles. The batteries are easily rechargeable and have a higher energy density compared to other batteries, reports Hybrid Geek

Nickel-metal hydride batteries are cheaper to manufacture than lithium-ion batteries, but store less energy overall. These types of batteries are more predictable, due to the raw materials used to produce them, but they have a higher discharge rate over time. 

The nickel-metal hydride battery is used in the first hybrid vehicle ever introduced to the U.S. market—Toyota’s Prius. 

 

Nickel-cobalt-aluminum Battery

LG Energy Solutions recently announced it will supply nickel, cobalt, manganese, and aluminum batteries for General Motors and Tesla vehicles. 

According to BusinessKorea, batteries with a higher nickel content have higher energy density and capacity. The batteries are roughly 89 percent nickel and less than 5 percent cobalt, aluminum is added to increase the battery’s stability by boosting output and lowering chemical instability. 

LG Energy Solutions worked with GM to establish Ultium Cells, a battery manufacturing plant that will mass-produce nickel, cobalt, manganese, and aluminum batteries for the next generation of GM and Tesla vehicles. 

 

Solid-state Battery

One of the newest battery types to enter discussion is the solid-state battery. Whereas lithium-ion batteries use liquid electrolyte solution, solid-state batteries use a solid electrolyte, according to Samsung

Solid-state batteries multiply energy density, creating longer driving ranges and have the potential to cut recharging time to just 10 minutes, reports Nikkei Asia. Solid-state batteries also have improved stability, lowering the risk of fires as compared to lithium-ion batteries. 

Though there currently aren’t any vehicles on the market using solid-state batteries, Toyota is leading the charge with more than 1,000 patents involving the batteries. According to MotorTrend, the Japanese automaker recently announced that in 2021 it will roll out a prototype that functions using a solid-state battery.

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