Hyundai moves to LFP batteries for its cheaper electric cars
Hyundai has so far only used performance electric batteries that with copious amounts of expensive metals like nickel and cobalt for electric vehicles like the Ioniq 6 or the KIA EV6. Last summer, it hinted at the development of a mass market electric car that will be half the price of the Ioniq 5 at the time, or in the US$20,000-$25,000 range. This will make it a direct competitor to the upcoming Model 2 and, just like Tesla's cheaper and smaller EV, it may use LFP batteries in a structural cell-to-pack module to reach that cost.
Korean media is reporting that Hyundai has signed a deal with the world's biggest EV battery maker for delivery of its affordable LFP batteries, the same ones that Tesla uses in the base Model 3 and Model Y. The LFP batteries offer lower energy density than the high-nickel ones but can charge to a higher level with less deterioration and are much cheaper to make since they use the abundant iron phosphate.
CATL is the world's largest battery maker precisely because it ships copious amounts of those to Tesla and others, and is working on the next generation of the phosphate battery tech with increased energy density. Hyundai may install its first LFP batteries in the upcoming 2023 KIA Ray EV upgrade that is due to launch later this year with a brand new design. Instead of its premium 800V e-GMP platform, the Ray will be based on BorgWarner’s iDM146 drive train that operates at half the voltage and has a peak power of 135 kW.
This will further cut down on its production costs, so the second Ray generation may turn out to be one of the cheapest electric cars launched this year. CATL just reported record earnings and is reportedly ready to induce an EV battery price war armed with the proceeds as it is losing market share to BYD whose LFP packs may also find their way into Tesla vehicles soon.
In any case, EV makers are preparing to usher in a stage of mass electrification with more compact and way more affordable models and apparently Hyundai doesn't want to be left behind in that next phase of the electrification race.