Challenges and Advancements in EV Battery Technology

As the automobile industry is amidst a transformation phase in changing IC engines to a battery-driven EV model, there has been a long-standing criticism that EVs are not as green as they are projected to be.

Range-anxiety, charging time, high cost of batteries & limited lifespan have been the usual hot topics among EV critics. Now more people are questioning the fundamental premise of whether EVs are really green in the first place as bulk of the electricity we generate today is still from non-renewables.

Right at the outset, let me bust this myth. EVs are greener & more efficient than their ICE counterparts by more than 30% even with traditional electricity generation.

What they are not however is a one-size-fits-all. For example, battery power may not be effective for the long-distance trucking industry anytime soon.

However, it is time to understand holistically the challenges in the adoption of battery powered EVs

Nickel and Cobalt are two crucial components in some Lithium-batteries extensively used in phones & most two-wheelers.

Current Challenges

Even though EVs are increasingly becoming popular and the market share is surging year on year, some problems still need continuous innovation and a sustainable solution. Let us explore some issues that are less talked about:

● Lithium & Li-ion supply : A study says that over 90% of Li-ion battery demand is just from the EV segment itself Increase in demand from other sectors and the fluctuations in global supply chain can easily create panic in the EV space

● Supply chain and ethical sourcing: Nickel and Cobalt are two crucial components in some Lithium-batteries extensively used in phones & most two-wheelers.The countries with the most resources of these minerals are under turmoil under geopolitical obligations & ethical sourcing concerns.

● Influencing consumer choices: Range-anxiety is still not the thing of the past. At least in inter-city travel using 4-wheelers. Battery swapping and faster charging are two major ways people are trying to address “range anxiety”. Though there is no magic pill to address all cases, in the intra-city urban usage scenario, it is much less of a concern

● LFP vs NMC Batteries: LFP refers to the Li-ion batteries that use a combination of iron and phosphorus in the cathodes. The use case of LFP batteries has been synonymous only with 4-wheelers till now

Advancements to check

Batteries are all over the automobile segment. One must understand that even IC engine-driven vehicles need batteries to self-start.

Subsequently, all other smart applications require batteries. From efficiency to range, durability to fire-resistance, energy density to charging time, advanced batteries are slowly getting out of the lab and on to the market with promise of longevity, reliability & affordability.

Let us see the advancements that are slowly changing the scenario of battery components in EVs:

● LMFP is the clear winner today: LMFP or lithium-iron-manganese-phosphate has emerged as the clear winner that combines the best attributes of both LFP (Durability, Fire-resistance, Weather tolerance) and NMC (High energy density). Moreover, LMFP comes with an overall lifespan of close to 2000 cycles, which is significantly higher than NMC at around 800 cycles.

● Add-on batteries: While swappable batteries are predominantly being used in urban logistics 2W fleets, They may not be ideal for other segments. Portable add-on batteries may make more sense in rural utility & personal vehicle space

● Rise of BaaS: It is difficult to predict the fate of vehicle ownership in the coming years. The growth of VaaS or Vehicle-as-a-Subscription along with Battery-as-a-Subscription are set to take over urban utility. The pricing would be strikingly similar to how money is charged as per the use case and miles driven.

● The emergence of new 72V architecture: As in the case of early EV adopters in the 2W segment, most of them have adapted to the 48V architecture. This has opened a flurry of problems including low voltage supply and more time in charging the battery. And the need for dedicated charging infrastructure even for two-wheelers. However, the emergence of a 72V supply in the 15A slot would mean fast and easy charging while at home. Without compromising on battery lifespan

"The future of EVs is bright with newer innovations and breakthroughs happening at break-neck speed."

Final Thoughts
The future of EVs is bright with newer innovations and breakthroughs happening at break-neck speed.

While advanced battery chemistries like solid-state, sodium-ion and aluminum-air can help with large vehicles such as cars, buses, trucks & even airplanes, current battery tech is already advanced & more than sufficient for enabling micro-mobility options including motorcycles.

It is important for all of us to look beyond the EV hype and aim to create much safer, more comfortable & more accessible vehicles especially in the two-wheeler space!