Tesla’s embrace of lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries has propelled the chemistry into the mainstream of the automotive industry. Automakers including Volkswagen, Daimler, and Ford have also adopted the cost-effective technology in their lower-range EVs.
However, more than 90% of the world’s LFP battery cell manufacturing capacity is based in China, according to Benchmark Mineral Intelligence’s Gigafactory Assessment. A global shortage of LFP cell capacity outside of China could hinder wider adoption by western automakers, Benchmark says.
Last month Gotion High-Tech agreed to supply a large listed and unnamed US automaker with 200 GWh of LFP batteries between 2023 and 2028 in an indication of the auto industry’s reliance on Chinese production.
In addition, rising lithium carbonate prices are adding to the costs of LFP batteries. Benchmark’s Lithium Carbonate, Battery Grade, EXW China price exceeded $40/kg or $40,000/tonne for first time last month.
Benchmark Mineral Intelligence’s latest Lithium Price Assessment on 31 December 2021 saw the high point of its lithium carbonate price range within China reach $41,925/tonne. The mid point of the assessment for this specific grade settled at $39,250/tonne, up by 485.8% on prices a year prior.