What are LFP batteries and why will some Ford EVs quickly have them?

Ford introduced on Monday that it’s planning the set up of lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries into its Mustang Mach-E beginning later in calendar 12 months 2023 and its F-150 Lightning in calendar 12 months 2024. 

The shift will doubtlessly convey decrease EV costs, though that can “depend upon what occurs with the market,” based on Ford Mannequin E chief buyer officer Marin Gjaja. 

The chief added: “The entire intent right here is to make these extra inexpensive and accessible.”

Mach-E Normal Vary will get LFP cells beginning later this 12 months, F-150 Normal Vary early subsequent 12 months—with the shift doubtlessly not occurring abruptly however a trim stage at a time. Prolonged Vary and something performance-oriented will stick with the present nickel manganese cobalt (NMC) chemistry that’s utilized in these fashions at present.

From 2026, LFP cells for Ford merchandise will come from a Michigan battery plant established with expertise from China’s CATL. Within the meantime, cells for these merchandise are prone to come from one in all CATL’s vegetation in China. 

Ford comparing NCM and LFP battery types

Ford evaluating NCM and LFP battery sorts

Ford LFP battery benefits

Ford LFP battery advantages

Causes behind the shift to LFP

In a presentation Monday, Ford outlined a number of the causes behind the shift. LFP batteries have distinctive sturdiness, they usually may also help strengthen the provision chain whereas utilizing fewer high-demand, high-cost supplies and mineral sources. Additional, they are often charged from 0% to 100% day by day—one thing that’s not really helpful for the NCM chemistries which might be at present used within the F-150 Lightning, Mustang Mach-E, and E-Transit if full vary isn’t wanted. 

Ford additionally famous that due to these traits, LFP batteries are additionally a most well-liked alternative for bidirectional charging, as is already provided with an F-150 Lightning house energy backup system. 

Alternatively, LFP cells are sometimes sluggish and slower to fast-charge on the coldest ambient temperatures. They’re additionally not the perfect decide for prime efficiency or the longest vary, partly as a result of they pack extra weight for a similar vitality; however as Ford emphasised within the technique under, it solely sees LFP batteries as primarily satisfying the fleet and entry-level portion of the market. 

Ford multi-chemistry approach for EV batteries

Ford multi-chemistry method for EV batteries

A unique form of lithium-ion

As a subset of lithium-ion battery tech, LFP cells use lithium iron phosphate because the cathode and graphite because the electrode. These cells are far much less liable to the thermal runaway which may trigger fires or degradation from overheating; a variety of sources now additionally recommend they final considerably longer. 

LFP cells aren’t depending on nickel and cobalt, two supplies which might be costly, supply-constrained, and an enormous raise for the provision chain. 

Roughly one-fifth of the world’s electrical autos are powered by LFP cells. The expertise, led by China’s BYD a decade in the past, has superior in its newest type within the BYD Blade battery, whereas CATL can also be a number one producer. 

Ford comparing battery form factors, in shift to LFP

Ford evaluating battery type components, in shift to LFP

Ford-CATL LFP prismatic cells for Mach-E, F-150 Lightning

Ford-CATL LFP prismatic cells for Mach-E, F-150 Lightning

Change in type issue, too

The battery chemistry gained’t be the one factor that adjustments in autos that make the shift to LFP, Ford executives famous. The battery type issue shall be fully totally different, too. These fashions will use prismatic cells versus the pouch cells utilized in present fashions; they usually’ll be bigger. Ford famous, at greater than double the capability in ampere-hours.

Meaning much less bussing between the cells themselves, which helps mitigate a number of the vitality losses from these much less energy-dense cells, Ford defined. 

Ford didn’t clarify additional what this implies for the long run in precise pack structure—or to what stage it doubtlessly means skipping modules or packs sooner or later. CATL, as an example, has what it phrases a “disruptive” water-cooling design that allows a cell-to-pack structure with spectacular vitality densities to rival that of these costlier cell sorts.

2023 Ford F-150 Lightning

2023 Ford F-150 Lightning

Knowledgeable by knowledge and bottom-line price

The corporate did underscore that the shift to LFP cells was a part of a call to diversify its battery choices to higher match product utilization and buyer wants. 

Ford’s linked car knowledge crew has been learning aggregated, anonymized car knowledge to know how its EVs are used. And from that, it discovered the typical Mustang Mach-E driver sometimes goes simply 32 miles a day, with a visit distance averaging simply 5 miles at a time. Additional, 95% of Mach-E clients begin their journeys at ambient temperatures above freezing. 

It says that it doesn’t have a full 12 months of information on F-150 Lightning use but, but it surely’s already seen that 89% of consumers begin their journeys above freezing. 

2022 Ford E-Transit

2022 Ford E-Transit

Ford didn’t verify that LFP batteries are additionally headed into its E-Transit supply vans quickly, however as its personal chart above confirmed, fleet autos appear to fulfill the profile of fashions which might be charged to 100% day by day. 

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