Batteries are the most expensive component in an electric vehicle, mostly due to how costly it is to mine and refine the raw materials needed to make them. They’re also the center of focus when it comes to the ethics of building an EV, again due to the mining processes required to extract materials such as cobalt and nickel from the earth.

Battery makers are well aware of how the situation could be improved if there was less reliance on these precious metals. As many seek to reduce how much nickel and cobalt is used in a battery, one of the industry’s key players is trying to make an EV battery that doesn’t use any nickel or cobalt at all.

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Contemporary Amperex Technology Ltd. or CATL for short, supplies batteries to the likes of Tesla, Polestar, Daimler, Honda, and VW and says it’s developing a nickel and cobalt free battery, Autoblog reports.

We don’t have much to go on right now, but here’s what we do know.

On an industry conference call held last week, CATL senior executive Meng Xiangfeng said the new battery will differ from NCA (nickel cobalt aluminum), NCM (nickel cobalt manganese), and LFP (lithium iron phosphate) batteries and will not include any expensive metals such as nickel or cobalt.

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While the details remain sparse right now. There are a few clear implications that could come true if CATL can successfully make such a battery.

For one, it could help clean up supply chains. EV companies are conscious of their supply chains and regularly audit where the materials used to produce their batteries come from. A battery with no cobalt or nickel would remove any potential questions over the ethical sourcing of materials.

For two, it could make electric vehicles substantially cheaper. Electric batteries are expensive because of the precious metals that go in to them. Reducing dependency on rare, difficult to obtain materials is a sure fire way of reducing their cost and making EVs more affordable.

Earlier this year, CATL announced that it had managed to produce batteries which it says are robust enough to last for more than one million miles of use.

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Published August 17, 2020 — 12:20 UTC

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