LG Chem CEO Q&A Interview

3 years ago by Eric Loveday 22

LG Chem's Michigan Facility

LG Chem’s Michigan Facility

LG Chem Lithium-Ion Polymer Battery Cells Are Here To Stay Until At Least 2020

LG Chem Lithium-Ion Polymer Battery Cells Are Here To Stay Until At Least 2020

Recently, Automotive News conducted an interview with Prabhakar Patil, CEO of LG Chem Power, the company’s North American division.

Patil was asked several questions, most of which had a Tesla tie in.

Below, we’ve selected 2 of the several Q&As from that interview to highlight here:

Q: LG Chem’s Holland, Mich., plant makes batteries for the Chevrolet Volt and Cadillac ELR. At what percent of capacity is the plant operating?

A: It’s at 25 to 30 percent of capacity.

Q: How long will lithium ion remain the battery of choice? Is there any technology — say, lithium air batteries — that will replace it?

A: We’ll have lithium ion for at least the next 10 to 15 years. Before you put anything on the road, you need five years to validate your technology. So if you want to have a proven technology by 2020, you need to solve all issues in the lab by 2015. I don’t see anything in anybody’s closet that is ready for that.

To hear the world leader in automotive batteries says that lithium-ion is here to stay until at least 2020 should put to rest the thoughts of an earth-shaking battery breakthrough coming within the next few years.

For the full Q&A, click the link below.

Source: Automotive News

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22 responses to "LG Chem CEO Q&A Interview"

  1. DaveMart says:

    ‘LG Chem held a ground breaking ceremony for the construction of an electric-car battery plant in Nanjing, China. The Nanjing battery plant, with an annual production capacity of more than 100,000 electric vehicles when completed by the end of 2015, will supply batteries to Chinese automakers such as SAIC Motor Corp, Qoros and many other global carmakers in China.’

    http://www.greencarcongress.com/2014/10/20141031-lg.html

    So there is plenty of real world capacity, actually in place or under construction with an imminent availability, being built without hype.

    1. Bonaire says:

      Real world capacity depends on how many battery cells go into each vehicle that is built. You can make 1000 Volts, 200 Tesla MS 85 or 100 or less EV buses. Which makes the most sense for battery makers – more batteries in fewer cars or spread the capacity smartly among more and price them lower? The idea of the Volt is still better, in my mind, than the 85kWh solution because drivers can use electricity for most driving, have no range anxiety on long distance trips and generally cuts nearly as much gas usage as they would in a “big BEV”. For half the price. When I compare a $34K Volt and a $129K high performance P85+, I know why some people make the decision for the Tesla and it is like comparing a dinner at Applebees versus Morton’s steakhouse. Different experiences cost different amounts. In the end, a car gets you to a destination. And depreciation is a problem for both.

      1. ItsNotAboutTheMoney says:

        The Volt’s half the price of the Model S60 partly because the Volt’s 0-60 in 8.9s instead of 5.9s. If the Model S had the same performance as the Volt it’d cost quite a bit less but still be expensive enough that it’d sell about as well as the ELR.

        What makes more sense to lithium cell manufacturers is large batteries, which is why LG Chem is trading lower prices for MOUs on “200-mile” BEVs.

        To give you some idea of the impact: in 2013 Toyota’s global hybrid sales were approximately 1,279,400. Using the regular Prius pack size of 1.7kWh, that’s the equivalent of 25,588 Model S 85kWh. In other words, with its small amount of sales, Tesla has essentially matched annual sales of battery capacity by what is the biggest hybrid vendor by far.

        Obviously, plug-ins are the way to go. But to sell large numbers of plug-ins the cell prices have to come down. Given low cell pricing, and the fact that you could expect to replace the cells at least once, what would LG Chem prefer to sell?:
        – 2 x 17.1kWh per vehicle
        – displace the engine and sell 2 x 50kWh+ per vehicle?

        Given the possible multipliers and given that lower prices could also see explosion growth in static storage, it seems to that LG Chem very clearly wants a future with long-range BEV.

        1. Bonaire says:

          Sure, replace the Chevy Voltec engine and use that $4k of input costs to add 10kWh more into the system. Then you have 29 kWh in the next-gen Volt. Well, that is not enough. What they need is another 50% decrease in cost per kWh in order to truly bring BEV to the masses.

          Of course, a simplistic view is make the smallest, cheapest shell of a car and stuff 45 kWh into it and get 200 miles out of it. This will sell for under $30K eventually. But to make a compelling car with lots of range and style, it costs a lot.

          Ford’s Fusion model could be a good seller as a 200 mile BEV. Nice size, style is ok. But can they work the battery layout out in the generally historic ICE chassis design?

          The Volt T-cell pack layout is done with a lot of engineering planning – but it’s tall stand-up nature hurts in capability of how it is installed and appears to borrow from the rear drive-shaft stylings of ICE vehicles. The skateboard design makes more sense for larger BEV designs and even for smaller EREV if they were to utilize a more pizza-box layout across more of the under-carriage.

      2. Koz says:

        Comparing the S60 to the Volt is like comparing Denny’s to Morton’s. Range anxiety with the Model S is overrated. There really isn’t much of it, except for a small minority of outlier cases. The beauty of the Volt is that you can use 100% of your range every day without concern of battery degradation or stranding. If GM could utilize a larger charge window, the value would get even better. Both cars offer the best value in plug-ins but each offers a different value set.

    2. Rob Stark says:

      The Nanjing plant has the same capacity as the Holland Michigan plant.

      60k Volts per year or 12.7k Model S 85 per year.

      Relative to the Gigafactory, a rounding error.

      1. DaveMart says:

        Actually the capacity of the Nanking plants and the Michigan one are both considerably larger than the capacity of the gigafactory for 2015, which is projected to be zero.

        Large ambitions do not equate to large achievements.

        1. Chris O says:

          So lame davemart, so lame…

        2. Dr. Kenneth Noisewater says:

          Given what Tesla’s achieved in the past few years, I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. Barring governmental interference, natural disaster or economic meltdown of course.

          Go ahead and hate. I’ve been told crow can be quite delicious if prepared properly!

          http://bertc.com/subfive/recipes/threecrows.htm

  2. David Murray says:

    On the other hand. It would be foolish of him to say they had some groundbreaking battery coming out in 2 years. Then everyone would stop buying EVs and wait for this new technology. They need to be able to see what they have now.

    Of course, IMO, the battery technology we have now is more than adequate. The costs need to come down some to help make the cars more competitive, though.

    1. Bonaire says:

      Testing on Lithium-Sulfer has been going on worldwide for a couple years. It has everything except high recharge count solved. If they can get 1000 charges out of Li-S – that will be the next-gen.

      1. Jim Bo says:

        Even at 600-800 cycles Li-S could be viable as range-extending batteries coupled with Li-ion main batteries.

    2. Mark H says:

      Agree with all that is stated. Still, there can be significant breakthroughs in the current battery cathode, anode, electrolyte, and/or separator that could well move current battery technology forward. Even improving the manufacturing process alone can make substantial impacts.

  3. GeorgeS says:

    I think it’s interesting that LG is now mixing LMO and NCA chemistries. I really had no idea that they are ALREADY doing that on production volts NOW.

    I think they are going to increase the percentage of NCA in the Gen 2 Volt.

  4. Spec9 says:

    Why is the flag at half-mast?

    1. James says:

      I think the flag is at half mast mourning Michigan/Detroit’s economy.

  5. Wraithnot says:

    Five years of validation before you put something on the road seems a bit too pessimistic. It only took SK innovations and Kia three years to develope the battery for the Kia Soul EV: http://www.greencarcongress.com/2014/02/20140224-kia.html

    1. DaveMart says:

      He is talking about moving on beyond lithium ion, which is a far bigger leap.

      1. ItsNotAboutTheMoney says:

        It’s really not even that. It was 3 years of development for the battery using existing cells.

        1. ItsNotAboutTheMoney says:

          … so who knows how long “new cell in battery” actually took.

        2. Wraithnot says:

          The article certainly implied that the Kia Soul uses a custom cell. And since the 200 Wh/Kg is significantly better than a Nissan LEAF, BMW i3, etc., that seems reasonable.

      2. Wraithnot says:

        Regardless of what his overall point is, his statement about the requirement for a five year validation period has at least one counter example. And even if he’s right that nothing will replace lithium ion batteries in the next five years, there is a lot of room for improvement for lithium ion batteries both in terms of performance and cost.