Lithium iron phosphate batteries: how convenient for electric cars?
Advantages of lithium iron phosphate batteries for electric cars
LiFePO4 (LFP) batteries for electric cars are lithium-ion batteries with a lithium-iron-phosphate cathode. Many e-mobility experts and operators consider them a viable alternative to the more widely used NMCs with nickel manganese cobalt cathode.
The main advantages of lithium iron phosphate cathode batteries are: cheaper production; longer life cycle; no cobalt, whose mining industry is under indictment for low environmental and social sustainability (reserves concentrated in the Democratic Republic of Congo).
But today LFP batteries are largely produced in China, which largely controls the lithium and phosphate supply chains, including refining.
LFP battery life and reliability: a cost-effective choice?
Among the technical advantages of LFP batteries are service life and reliability. With a longer life cycle than NMC batteries, they can withstand a higher number of charge/discharge cycles. But not all experts agree that it is advisable to recharge them to 100%.
The technical disadvantage of LFP batteries is that they have lower energy density than NMC batteries. And therefore lower performance in terms of energy range.
Economic considerations of LFP batteries for electric vehicles
Recently CEO Carlos Tavares said that Stellantis needs lithium iron phosphate batteries to produce electric cars at a lower cost and thus more affordable to consumers. In the U.S., Tesla and Ford are betting decisively on LFP batteries, which will begin producing them in 2026. And there is interest in Europe as well.
Weighing heavily, however, are the unknowns associated with two essential components: lithium and phosphate.
Indeed, the lithium mining and refining industry has high economic, environmental and geopolitical costs. While phosphate is an unknown in terms of risk diversification in the event of a sharp increase in demand, given that 70 percent of the world’s phosphorus reserves are in Morocco and much of the material mined for the battery industry is now processed in China.