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Wednesday, May 25, 2022

[Battery+] Elon Musk wants LFP batteries for Tesla. Here’s why Korean battery trio shouldn’t produce them - The Korea Herald

Last updated Saturday, November 13, 2021 20:03 ET , Source: NewsService

It’s Elon Musk again. With every word he posts on Twitter, the market swings like a pendulum. From bitcoin to space, the eccentric leader’s influence has no bounds.

This time, the Tesla CEO is shaking up the electric vehicle market by challenging the decades-long paradigm of lithium-ion batteries.

Last month, Tesla announced that it would use a cheaper, safer alternative called lithium-iron phosphate, or LFP batteries, in all of its standard-range cars.

Taken aback by Tesla’s shift, South Korean battery trio LG Energy Solution, Samsung SDI and SK On -- which only manufacture lithium-ion batteries -- had to make a judgment call on whether they should produce LFP batteries too.

It was only SK On that called Tesla’s LFP bet. During its third quarter conference call, SK On said it would mass-produce LFP batteries to target the low-end EV market.

However, experts remain unsure about following Tesla’s lead, as LFP batteries, at a closer look, exhibit critical weaknesses in price competitiveness and driving range compared to lithium-ion batteries.

ESG risk

As the name suggests, LFP batteries use iron and phosphate as key materials. These two materials are cheap and abundant, especially in China. This is why LFP batteries -- produced predominantly by Chinese players such as CATL -- are much cheaper than lithium-ion batteries, which contain expensive metals such as nickel, cobalt and manganese.

On the flip side, however, this means that LFP batteries are worth much less in their...



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