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LG to supply NCMA battery for Tesla next year

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LG Group's headquarters on Yeouido, Seoul / Courtesy of LG Group
LG Group's headquarters on Yeouido, Seoul / Courtesy of LG Group

By Kim Bo-eun

LG's new battery business unit is set to become the first company to produce batteries with nickel, cobalt, manganese and aluminum (NCMA) anode materials for EVs next year. LG Energy Solution is set to provide the NCMA batteries to Tesla, according to industry sources.

LG Energy Solution has stated it will produce the battery, 90 percent of which will be made of nickel, beginning in the latter half of 2021.

Regarding the supply of the battery to Tesla, an LG Energy Solution official said, "We cannot confirm this as we cannot specify the names of our clients."

But the firm is beefing up production capacity at its plant in Nanjing, China. The plant manufactures cylindrical battery cells used in Tesla's vehicles.

It has been reported that the company will provide NCMA batteries for Tesla's Model Y.

LG earlier partnered with General Motors to produce the battery by 2022. But LG's sooner-than-expected production, and supply slated for next year, may speed up manufacturing with GM.

LG and GM set up a joint venture to manufacture Ultium batteries by 2022. The company Ultium Cells will produce NCMA batteries for GM EVs at its plant in Lordstown, Ohio.

The NCMA battery cathode is 90 percent nickel and the percentage of cobalt is below five percent.

The high nickel percentage brings up energy density and enables EVs to travel a distance of 600 kilometers per charge. Existing batteries only enabled the vehicles to travel 500 kilometers per charge.

LG Energy Solution brought down battery costs by reducing the use of cobalt and substituting this with aluminum. Aluminum is known to balance out instability that may arise in the high energy-density-cathode.

LG Energy Solution referred to Hanyang University professor Sun Yang-kook's paper, which states the NCMA battery outperforms Samsung's NCA battery and SK's NCM9, both of which have a nickel percentage of around 90 percent, in capacity, battery life and resistance. Sun has been listed by Clarivate Analytics in 2019 as a researcher with highly cited work in material science.

The company will be supplied with the battery by L&F, a local manufacturer of cathode materials for secondary batteries.

LG Energy Solution has made a 1.45 trillion won deal with the firm. L&F is led by Huh Je-hong, the great grandson of the late LG Group co-founder Huh Man-jung.

L&F made a regulatory filing, Wednesday, outlining the deal to supply cathode materials to the company for the next two years.

POSCO Chemical is supplying cathode materials for Ultium Cells. It is setting up a production line in Gwangyang, South Jeolla Province.

Kim Bo-eun


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