At the Metal Events International Lithium, Graphite & Cobalt Conference in Hong Kong on 5-6 November 2018, the impact of developments in lithium-ion battery cathode chemistries, EV subsidies and environmental legislation were discussed in presentations by producers, processors and analysts. The transition to higher-nickel cathode chemistries may be in focus for passenger vehicles but the use of LFP type cathodes for electric buses, delivery vehicles and other ‘set route’ vehicles will form a crucial part of lithium-ion battery growth as a result of increased cycle life and lower cost of production.
China introduced the ‘double credit policy’ to automotive manufacturers in April 2018 and reduced the subsidies for lower range and energy density electric vehicles. The changes have caused manufacturers to focus on producing longer range vehicles (>300km per charge) using higher energy density cathode materials such as NMC 532, NMC 622 and NCA. The use of NMC 811 cathode materials remains limited with little production capacity, as equipment at cathode producers of lower nickel NMC cathodes is not interchangeable. Increasingly stringent emissions legislation being planned around the world is incentivising the shift to HEVs and EVs with manufacturers in Europe being fined for vehicles which exceed targets, whilst credits are set to be awarded to vehicle models which have ‘super-low’ emissions levels.