Soaring prices of cobalt, one of the key battery ingredients, prompts Panasonic to develop cobalt-free lithium-ion cells.
The Japanese manufacturer, together with Tesla, already produces cells that are very energy dense with cobalt-usage below 10% of cathode weight (below the NMC 811 type cells introduced by competitors).
Regardless of exact cobalt share in the battery, it's still too high and the ultimate goal is to keep the performance of the batteries and to get rid of most expensive materials at the same time.
Kenji Tamura, who is in charge of Panasonic's automotive battery business, said:
"We have already cut down cobalt usage substantially,"
"We are aiming to achieve zero usage in the near future, and development is underway."
For us it's obvious that the range offered by Tesla cars is high enough for the majority of drivers, while affordability still needs to be improved for the mass market.
Interesting is that manufacturers are trying to deal with cobalt prices with unconventional contracts:
"In addition to the effort to reduce rare mineral content in its batteries, Panasonic is also trying to sign contracts with clients "in a way that allows the company to hedge risks of surging prices of the materials," said Yoshio Ito, the chief of Panasonic's automotive business."
Mid-term Growth Scenario: Energy Business (Automotive Batteries)
Source: Automotive News