According to the South Korean media, from July LG Chem's LG Energy Solution will supply Tesla in China with lithium-ion cells with the new NCMA cathode material (lithium nickel cobalt manganese aluminum).
Currently, the South Korean manufacturer is supplying Tesla with 2170 cylindrical cells with NCM 811 cathode chemistry (nickel:cobalt:manganese at a ratio of 8:1:1). CATL is supplying LFP (lithium iron phosphate), while Panasonic initially supplied the Gigafactory 3 with NCA (lithium nickel cobalt aluminum oxide) type.
BusinessKorea reports that Tesla will be the first customer that will get cells with LG Chem's newly developed NCMA cathode materials - for the Made-in-China (MIC) Model Y. The previous plan was to produce the cells with NCMA cathode materials from L&F, but LG Chem now has an in-house solution ready.
LG Chem's LG Energy Solution NCMA cathode materials will be used also by the Ultium Cells joint venture with GM. GM will be receiving NCMA cells starting in September (the Ultium Cells plant to be launched in 2022).
The NCMA cathode material has about 85% nickel content and only 5% of cobalt, plus about 5% of manganese and 5% of aluminum.
According to The Elec's report from December, the NCMA should be more energy-dense and less expensive than NCM 811 with cathode material from Posco Chemical. The unofficial target is 5,000 mAh capacity of the 2100 cylindrical cells, compared to 4,700 mAh now. That would be over 6% more.
Regardless of the details, we can see a very interesting, fierce competition between the battery chemistries - some are competing in the high-end segment to increase energy density, while the others (like LFP) are more about "good enough" energy density at the lowest possible cost.