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The road of high-nickel battery is slow step by step, not slow.
Sep 9,2020 15:06CST
The content below was translated by Tencent automatically for reference.

SMM News: GM EV1, the world's first modern electric vehicle, used 32 lead-acid batteries as the main energy source when it was unveiled in 1996, which can travel 144km on a single charge. In the following 24 years, the power battery embarked on the development road from lead acid battery to Ni-MH battery, lithium manganate battery, nickel cobalt aluminate battery, lithium iron phosphate battery to high nickel battery. Today's mass-produced pure electric models have a range of more than 700 kilometers with the help of advanced power battery technology.

From the actual needs of end consumers and the product development plans of international and domestic car companies, models with a range of 700 kilometers and above will become the mainstream. Based on this, the power battery with high nickel system is becoming the consensus and breakthrough direction of the industry development. This market has also become a must for Chinese and foreign power battery manufacturers, and there is no room for those who enter the bureau to slack off.

How high is the high nickel battery?

The technology is the highest in the mass production application of power battery.

The so-called high nickel battery, as the name implies, means that the proportion of nickel in the electrode material of the battery is higher. The background of its development is that the mainstream cell technology routes in the market are mostly carried out around lithium iron phosphate, lithium cobalt, lithium manganate and ternary materials, in which the high price of cobalt makes the cost of the battery high. Battery manufacturers have to try to reduce the proportion of cobalt in various forms. The high price of cobalt has become an unsolved problem due to the unstable political situation in Congo, its main producing area, and local restrictions on the export of cobalt ore. As a result, the NCM811 battery arises at the historic moment, that is, the ratio of nickel, cobalt and manganese in the cathode material has become 80%, 10% and 10%, which not only reduces the cobalt ratio so that the cost can be controlled, but also ensures the energy density of the battery to a certain extent, and greatly improves the battery life, cycle life and safety.

How big is the challenge of high nickel battery to the traditional cell technology? In fact, it's as big as the upper limit of your imagination. The manufacturing process of high-nickel lithium battery from raw material to cell is far more difficult than other forms of cell. The difficulty lies not only in the higher alkalinity of the high-nickel material, but also in how to overcome the oxidizability of the material. Many power battery manufacturers who are committed to the research and development of high-nickel ternary materials are unable to go further in the face of these two problems.

Before Ningde era, high nickel ternary battery can only be used for cylindrical battery, because the negative electrode of high nickel battery uses silicon alloy, it is much more difficult to install silicon alloy into square battery than high nickel itself, this problem was not solved until Ningde era became the first company in the world to mass produce high nickel 811 on square core, Ningde era succeeded in raising the energy density of battery system to a new height of 170Wh/kg.

Compared with the traditional 523, although the unit ton cost of 811 is higher than the former, the high capacity of 811 enables it to effectively reduce the amount of cathode materials per unit Wh battery. Thanks to the high physical energy density of the battery, 811 can also dilate the amount of unit Wh structure and the cost of production. It is certain that high nickel 811 will be a cost-reducing weapon in the power battery industry in the next few years.

After the Ningde era, the high-nickel battery 811 technology attracted the global first-line power battery manufacturers. But almost every exploration is proving the fact that when the battery material does not really break through the scope of the Nobel Prize, the high-nickel 811 battery is still the most pragmatic solution to solve the bottleneck of the electric vehicle market in the current power battery mass production technology.

How many complete vehicle brands are there for high nickel batteries?

It's almost everything you can think of.

At the end of 2018, Li Bin, founder of Xilai Automobile, said at the new product conference that the new model ES6 will be equipped with NCM811 batteries, which opened the curtain of the complete vehicle brand equipped with high-nickel 811 batteries. A few months later, GAC NE announced the use of Ningde-era NCM811 batteries, followed by brilliance BMW X1 hybrid mileage upgrade to become the world's first plug-in hybrid model with NCM811 batteries. Then we saw brilliance BMW 5-Series hybrid, Lulai ES8, Weima EX5, Xiaopeng G3, Hechuang 007, as well as BAIC, Jianghuai, SAIC, Dongfeng, Hezhong, Aichi and other models and brands have joined the ranks of NCM811. Look, who else did the domestic new energy car companies miss?

Since 2019, when new energy car manufacturers began to increase the range of their models to 500km or more, NCM811 batteries with better battery life than lithium iron phosphate batteries have become the best choice.

Traditional foreign brands also take the high-nickel 811 as the consensus of the next power battery choice. After the X1 and 5 series hybrid model, BMW once again carried the NCM811 cell of the Ningde era on the global medium-sized electric SUV iX3. Foreign giants such as Tesla, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, Hyundai, Nissan and GM have also announced that they will introduce a high-nickel battery system. After all, in their eyes, there is no more suitable choice than a high-nickel battery system to reduce costs and improve mileage.

From the data of the installed capacity of high-nickel batteries in 2019, the installed capacity of the whole year is about 3GWh, and the Ningde era accounts for half of the country. It is predicted that after the epidemic, the demand for high-nickel batteries in the global new energy vehicle market will continue to grow further. It must be noted that the Japanese and South Korean power battery companies that previously monopolized the international market in the field of high-nickel batteries are bound to speed up their penetration into the Chinese market. At that time, how can China's power battery enterprises guarantee that they will not lose ground or even win the war in the competition?

How fierce is the competition for high-nickel batteries?

One step at a time, slow step by step, never slow.

Just like the question just raised, Japanese and South Korean power battery companies are eyeing the Chinese market covetously. How can China, which has just occupied a place in the global power battery field, ensure that it will not lose ground in this round of technological upgrading?

In fact, Japanese and Korean power battery companies have begun to contain Chinese power battery companies through the growth of European market share. European best-selling models such as Renault ZOE and Audi e-tron have led to the growth of LG battery installation. Zeng Yuqun, chairman of Ningde Times, is even prepared for the worst-Europe will sell more electric cars than China in 2020. In the domestic market, Panasonic and LG rely on supporting domestic Tesla Model 3 to greatly increase the installed capacity of their own high-nickel batteries.

Chinese power battery enterprises not only face the fierce competition in the market, but also have more fierce competition in the field of technology that determines the future, which also comes from the technical pressure of power battery enterprises in Japan and South Korea. Japanese enterprises with NCA as the technology-oriented direction, together with South Korean enterprises with NCM plus NCA as the technical route, have won almost all the international passenger car brands supporting NCA products. And LG Chemical and SKI, representatives of Japanese and Korean power battery companies, have completed mass production of NCM811 batteries and announced that they are developing batteries with higher nickel content to further move away from their dependence on cobalt.

Among them, SKI is ready to start producing a new generation of high-nickel batteries with a NCM ratio of 90%, 5% and 5% in 2020, and plans to commercialize them in 2021. Japanese and South Korean power battery companies such as LG Chemical, Samsung SDI and Panasonic are also not relaxing their research and development in the field of cobalt-free batteries. LG Chemical will start supplying General Motors with NCMA batteries with 90 per cent nickel content next year. Panasonic has also reduced the cobalt content in the high-nickel battery supplied to Tesla to less than 5 per cent, while Samsung SDI announced that it will expand its Hungarian plant to produce square NCA-Gen5 batteries with more than 80 per cent nickel content next year.

At present, all the technological competitions are aimed at the high-nickel battery, which is the most advanced technology in the mass production battery at present. whoever can take the lead in further reducing the content of cobalt will be the first to achieve further reduction in cost and further increase in energy density. who will become the global leader in the power battery market. For the Chinese power battery enterprises represented by Ningde era, they must focus on the research and development of technology on the premise of adhering to the technical route of high-nickel batteries in order to be in an invincible position in the fierce competition, otherwise they will be slow step by step. so you can't be slow.

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