Dec 24, 2023

Types of Batteries Used in Electric Vehicles in India

India’s diverse driving conditions and mix of terrains demand the best in reliability, ruggedness, performance, and safety. To meet these demands, the types of batteries for electric vehicles currently proven to be the most suitable and viable as of the early 21st century are LFP (Lithium Ferro Phosphate) and NMC (Nickel Manganese Cobalt). 

Previously, we covered the different types of lithium-ion battery chemistries that make up modern contemporary lithium-ion battery technology. This addition of Battery Decoded aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the types of batteries used in Electric Vehicles in India and describe how these two electric vehicle battery chemistries manage to tick every single box that Indian consumers look out for. 

LFP vs NMC Types of Batteries: A Comparison

As of the early 2020s, LFP and NMC are by far the two most predominant Li-ion battery chemistries used in Indian EVs. They have gained widespread popularity because of their low cost and high reliability. However, they also have some distinct advantages and disadvantages that make them suitable for different applications. Consequently, these pros and cons have led EV battery manufacturers to lean more toward either of the predominant chemistries with a different mix of elements. This has led to various EV companies using LFP batteries in affordable and base-level versions of their EVs while utilizing NMC batteries in top-end or ‘sport’ versions of their EVs. 

Reports suggest that EVs are less prone to catch fire compared to Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicles, as well as hybrid vehicles. 

According to data published by the NTSB:

  • Hybrid vehicles or hybrid electric vehicle varieties are the most likely to experience a fire, with 3474.5 fire incidents per 100k or 1 Lac vehicles sold.
  • Petrol or Diesel vehicles experienced 1529.9 fire incidents per 100k or 1 Lac vehicles sold.
  • Among every 100k or 1 Lac electric vehicle sales, 25.1 experienced fire incidents.

However, EV batteries or Li-ion batteries, due to their high energy density, may experience relatively more rapid and hard-to-control fires than ICE or hybrid vehicles. This is also why EV fire incidents have gained significant public attention while conventional vehicle fire incidents are relatively low-profile.

LFP Batteries

LFP batteries are preferred for their high number of life cycles, reliability, cost-effectiveness, and safety. These types of batteries are relatively more stable than NMC batteries and have a wider optimal temperature range than NMC batteries, between 0°C and 45°C (32°F and 113°F). LFP varieties and types of batteries can withstand more charge and discharge cycles without significant degradation of capacity. LFP varieties and types of batteries predominant in India’s EV ecosystem are also less prone to thermal runaway, which is a phenomenon where a battery overheats and catches fire. This is ideal when considering India’s high temperatures in various states. 

Thus, LFP batteries are more suitable for extreme climates and possess better safety features than NMC batteries. However, this disparity in safety between these two types of batteries is quickly being overcome with advances in Battery Management System (BMS) technology and other innovations in thermal runaway prevention and mitigation.

Some of the advantages of LFP batteries relative to NMC are:

  • Longer life span: LFP batteries can last for thousands of cycles depending on the usage and maintenance.
  • Higher safety: LFP electric vehicle batteries have a lower risk of fire or explosion, as they do not contain cobalt, which is a volatile and toxic metal.
  • Eco-friendly: LFP batteries are more environmentally friendly, as they do not use scarce and expensive metals like cobalt and nickel.

Some of the disadvantages of LFP batteries relative to NMC are:

  • Lower energy density: LFP batteries have a lower energy density than NMC batteries, which means they can store less energy in a given space. This results in lower range and performance for EVs.
  • Higher weight: LFP batteries are heavier than NMC batteries, which adds to the overall weight of the vehicle and reduces its efficiency.
  • Lower voltage: LFP batteries have a lower voltage than NMC batteries, which means they require more cells to achieve the same power output. This increases the complexity and cost of the battery management system.

NMC Batteries

NMC batteries champion higher energy density, meaning that these electric vehicle batteries can pack more energy inside a smaller form factor. This allows them to deliver more power and range for EVs by reduced weight. These types of batteries are also more versatile and adaptable, as they can be customized to suit different applications by varying the ratio of nickel, manganese, and cobalt in the cathode. Globally, around 60% of EVs sold now contain NMC batteries.

Some of the advantages of NMC batteries relative to LFP are:

  • Higher energy density: NMC batteries have a higher energy density than LFP batteries, which means they can provide more range and performance for EVs.
  • Smaller size: NMC batteries are smaller than LFP batteries, which reduces the space and weight requirements for the electric vehicle.
  • Higher voltage: NMC batteries have a higher voltage than LFP batteries, which means they require fewer cells to achieve the same power output. This simplifies the battery management system and reduces the cost.

Some of the disadvantages of NMC batteries relative to LFP are:

  • Shorter life span: NMC batteries have a shorter life span than LFP batteries, as they degrade faster with each charge and discharge cycle. They typically last for 3 to 5 years, depending on the usage and maintenance.
  • Narrow operational temperature: NMC batteries have a narrower operating temperature band of between 15°C to 35°C (59°F to 95°F), and are more prone to thermal runaway at high temperatures
  • Less eco-friendly: NMC batteries are less environmentally friendly, as they use scarce and expensive metals like cobalt and nickel, which have a high environmental and social impact.

Emerging Types of Batteries in the Indian EV Ecosystem

Other than LFP and NMC, there are a few emerging battery technologies that are gaining traction in India. Some of them are:

  • Lithium Cobalt Oxide (LCO): LCO batteries have a very high energy density but they are also more expensive and volatile. These types of batteries are commonly used for portable devices like laptops and smartphones and healthcare devices, but not as often for EVs, and are considered outdated by some battery ecosystem proponents.
  • Lithium Titanate (LTO): LTO batteries can charge and discharge very fast, meaning faster charge times and higher performance. They also have a very long life span and are highly safe, not combusting even after sustaining significant physical damage. However, they have a very low energy density, which limits their range and performance for EVs.
  • Lithium Nickel Cobalt Aluminium Oxide (NCA): NCA batteries have a significantly high energy density and high charge and discharge rate, which makes them ideal for high-performance EVs. However, they also have a very high cost and need more safety measures than other types of batteries. 

To Conclude

Various sources confirm the dominance of LFP and NMC types of batteries in the Indian electric vehicle market, but they may have slightly varied projections for the future market share of these different types of electric vehicle batteries. 

When EV batteries reach end-of-life in India, they are mandated by India’s Battery Waste Management Rules (BWMR 2022) to enter the battery recycling & repurposing stream, as part of Extended Producer Responsibility. Irrespective of the type of batteries; the size, form factor, or battery chemistry, LOHUM utilizes its proprietary NEETM™ technology to recycle them all to produce raw materials that are even higher in purity and performance than the materials that originally went into the battery.

In other words, the NEETM™ technology can recycle all the aforementioned types of batteries as it is fully chemistry-agnostic. This enables LOHUM to turn all types of Li-ion and electric vehicle batteries that have reached end-of-life, i.e. battery waste, into a source of sustainable secondary-ecosystem energy transition materials through recycling. 

Stay tuned to the LOHUM blog and our LinkedIn page for more illuminating insights on battery energy, sustainability, types of batteries, energy transition, circular economy, battery reuse, 2nd life applications, Lithium-ion battery recycling, and more.

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