With a record 6.6 million sold in 2021 and 2 million in Q1 of 2022, electric vehicles (EVs) are growing in popularity worldwide. EVs offer users the opportunity to move away from fossil fuel-based vehicles, with the total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions over the life of an EV often substantially lower than that of a gasoline vehicle.
Batteries are one of the most important components of an EV. A standard battery pack contains many individual lithium-ion batteries, known as cells. A bundle of cells is called a module, and a typical battery pack has several modules.
Keep reading for 5 interesting facts about EV batteries from the Kinvestor Network.
1. There are different types of EV Batteries
Lithium-ion batteries are the most widely used battery – they’re used in fully electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles – but there are other types as well. Lead-acid and nickel-metal hydride (Ni-MH) are two other types of batteries one may encounter.
Lithium-ion batteries offer several advantages over lead-acid and Ni-MH. The batteries have better efficiency and energy density, a longer life cycle, and the ability to retain maximum capacity. Research also suggests that lithium-ion batteries are the best charge-to-weight solution.
Ni-MH batteries have a long life cycle compared to lead-acid batteries, but they’re expensive to make and have a high self-discharge. Lead-acid batteries are inexpensive and safe, but their energy-to-mass ratio and life cycle aren’t comparable to the other options.
2. EV batteries use a variety of raw materials
Common materials used in lithium-ion batteries include cobalt, nickel, graphite, manganese, aluminum, iron, and lithium. The following countries have the major reserves of raw materials used in lithium-ion batteries:
- Lithium: Chile (51%) and Australia (16%)
- Manganese: South Africa (32%), Brazil (17%) and Ukraine (17%)
- Cobalt: Democratic Republic of Congo (51%) and Australia (17%)
- Nickel: Indonesia (24%) and Australia (23%)
- Graphite: Russia (30%) and China (25%)
The choice of battery materials affects the life of the battery and the amount of energy it can store. Modern batteries with lesser cobalt content in the cathode can store more energy compared to older high-cobalt batteries. Tesla and other manufacturers also offer batteries that avoid cobalt altogether, combining lithium with iron and phosphate (LFP) instead. Besides energy storage, the high price and negative impacts of mining have led to a reduction in the use of cobalt.
3. EV battery range is increasing
The range of EV batteries has increased significantly since their introduction in 2011. In the model year (MY) 2021, the maximum and median range of EVs sold in the U.S. was approximately 600 kilometres and 375 kilometres respectively. Most households travel 80 kilometres per day on average, making the current range more than enough for the average user’s daily needs.
The maximum range will vary with battery size, driving conditions, and the surrounding temperature. For instance, the Mercedes EQS 450+ has a usable battery capacity of 107.8 kWh and a range of 595km and 895 km in cold weather city driving and mild weather city driving respectively. In comparison, the 39 kWh Nissan Leaf has a range between 165km and 355 km. Like all rechargeable batteries, EV batteries also lose their capacity over time.
4. EV batteries are easy to charge
There are currently over 50,000 Level 2 and over 7,700 DC Fast fueling stations across the U.S. and Canada. A standard 120 V (Level 1) outlet is suitable to charge most EV batteries. Faster charging methods include 240 V (Level 2) outlets and DC charging. Level 2 chargers charge at a rate of approximately 15-30 km/hour, while DC chargers are capable of charging at a rate of over 95 km every 20 minutes. The method of charging used can also affect battery life. To enhance the life of an EV battery, it is recommended to keep the levels between 20% and 80% of its full capacity.
5. EV batteries can be recycled
The increase in demand for EVs impacts the demand for their battery materials. One way to meet this demand is to recycle used batteries. Smelting is a popular method to recycle lithium-ion and Ni-MH batteries. Many current methods of recycling are energy intensive and result in the loss of lighter metals like lithium. Researchers are looking for more efficient methods to recycle the large number of batteries expected to be decommissioned in the coming years.
Fuelled by policy support and growing demand, the EV market has grown exponentially in recent years and is expected to reach $912 billion by 2027. However, the price of raw materials and the charging infrastructure are issues that need to be resolved. For investors, the EV market presents an opportunity to pick the leaders of the transportation market of the future by investing in critical battery metals like lithium, graphite, and more.
Opportunities to Invest in Battery Metals
Near Term Lithium Producers
- Lithium Americas Corp. (TSX:LAC)
- Sigma Lithium Corp. (TSXV:SGML)*
- Core Lithium Ltd. (ASX:CXO)
Near Term Graphite Producers
- Northern Graphite (TSXV:NGC)
- NextSource Materials (TSX:NEXT)
- Graphite One (TSXV:GPH)*
*At the time of publication, Kin Communications Inc. was contracted to provide investor relations services for this company.
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