Curious about who is using the most cobalt and who is using the most nickel in xEV batteries? Here we have the data

As we already know, some 46.3 GWh (up 89% year-over-year) of batteries were deployed globally in new passenger xEVs (BEV/PHEV/HEV) during the first half of 2019. With a 25% increase in xEV sales, the average capacity increased by 52% to 19.7 kWh.

Today, we will take a look at the usage of cobalt and nickel in xEVs in H1 2019, using several of the latest Adamas Intelligence reports from September and October.

Both elements are key in lithium-ion cathode materials, although in recent years manufacturers are trying to limit or replace entirely the expensive cobalt with nickel-rich chemistries.

Cobalt

Adamas Intelligence reports that the total usage for xEVs in 2019 H1 was 7,200 tonnes, which is 81% more than a year ago. 61% of deployment falls on Asia-Pacific (it was 50% in 2018 H1).

Demand for cobalt is increasing despite battery manufacturers would like to use it less:

  • BEVs: increase by 107% to 6,100 tonnes
  • PHEVs: increase by 4%
  • HEVs: increase by 11%

Interesting thing is that currently, five battery cell manufacturers are responsible for more than 75% of cobalt use:

  • LG Chem: 21% market share at 1,400 tonnes
  • CATL: more than quadrupled cobalt use year-over-year, market share increased from 8% to 19%
  • Panasonic: cobalt deployment increased by 35%, but the share decreased from 21% to 15%
  • BYD
  • Samsung SDI
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Nickel

In the case of nickel, 27,350 tonnes of nickel were deployed globally (H1 2019) in xEVs, which is 78% more than a year earlier. 52% falls on Asia-Pacific (compared to 49% in 2018 H1).

  • BEVs: increase by 119% to 20,600 tonnes
  • PHEVs: increase by 8%
  • HEVs: increase by 13%

Because the average battery capacity increases and manufacturers are using higher-nickel cathode chemistries, also the average amount of nickel per xEV is increasing quickly - by 42% year-over-year, from 8.2 kg in 2018 H1 to 11.6 kg in 2019 H1.

Here is an interesting comparison for nickel deployment in xEV batteries by car manufacturers (top three were responsible for over 55%):

  • Tesla: over 7,000 tonnes (almost 90% increase year-over-year)
  • Toyota: over 5,000 tonnes (up 11%, primarily in nickel-rich NiMH batteries for HEVs)
  • BYD: almost 2,500 tonnes (up nearly 300% due to switching from LFP cells to NCM)
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Among the 40+ biggest battery manufacturers for xEVs, five were responsible for more than 85% of nickel deployment.

  • Panasonic: over 12,500 (48% share)
    "As supplier of nickel-rich NCA cells to Tesla, and NiMH cells to Toyota, the world’s leading cell supplier by capacity delivered, Panasonic, was responsible for deployment of 48% of all passenger EV battery nickel globally in 2019 H1"
  • CATL: more than quadrupled nickel deployment, share increased from 5% to 13%
  • LG Chem
  • BYD
  • Envision AESC
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Source: Adamas Intelligence (several reports)