China's CATL working on battery that could make EV prices comparable with ICE cars

After announcing in June it was ready with a battery capable of lasting more than a million miles, CATL has now revealed it is developing a battery that could potentially see the price of electric vehicles come down to match their internal-combustion counterparts or even undercut them.

A senior executive for the Chinese battery supplier, Meng Xiangfeng, told an industry conference held in Shanghai on Saturday that CATL is developing a battery that doesn’t require nickel or cobalt, Reuters reported.

The metals are typically used for the cathodes in batteries. Eliminating their use would not only reduce the price of batteries, it would also alleviate concerns over ethical sourcing of the metals.

Rival companies, including some automakers, are also developing batteries that avoid the use of expensive materials. In May, GM said it was developing batteries with reduced cobalt and also some zero-cobalt designs.

GM’s new Ultium battery will likely be priced below the $100 per kilowatt-hour mark, due to its reduced reliance on cobalt. Driving the price down further means GM would be able to build EVs at the same price or lower as internal-combustion models, the automaker said.

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CATL’s battery developments extend further, though. For instance, the company is also looking to integrate batteries directly into a vehicle’s frame.

CATL is a supplier for multiple automakers including BMW, Geely, Tesla, Toyota and Volkswagen. It produces all of its batteries in China at present, but it is constructing a plant in the German state of Thuringia. The German plant, which will be operational in 2022, will use 100% renewable energy.

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