Northvolt, Scania develop NCM battery for heavy EV trucks

Swedish battery manufacturer Northvolt and Swedish commercial vehicles manufacturer Scania have jointly developed a nickel cobalt manganese (NCM) battery cell with capacity to power heavy electric vehicles for 1.5 million km

This reinforces demand for nickel cobalt manganese (NCM) in Western markets even as lithium iron phosphate (LFP) continues to grow its global market share.

“We are seeing a trend to use more LFP in heavy trucks, mainly in Asia. However, Europe has been focused on NCM battery manufacturing and only a few manufacturers produce LFP cells in Europe,” Phoebe O’Hara, Fastmarkets’ battery raw materials analyst, said.

O’Hara said that the shift to LFP is mainly due to price. For trucks, the batteries must be so large – in terms of kilowatt hours (kWh) – that creating them as NCM is expensive.

In the current spot market for cobalt, weak demands from electric vehicles (EV) and the chemical market as well as an oversupply of cobalt hydroxide continue to depress the price.

Fastmarkets’ daily price assessment for cobalt standard grade, in-whs Rotterdam was $16.20-16.75 per lb on Wednesday, down from $16.35-17.00 per lb on Tuesday.

Fastmarkets’ price assessment for cobalt hydroxide payable indicator, min 30% Co, cif China, % payable of Fastmarkets’ standard-grade cobalt price (low-end) was calculated at 53-56% on Wednesday, down from 54-60% on April 14.

Cobalt is an essential part of lithium-ion batteries that gives EVs the range and durability needed by consumers.

Fastmarkets’ price assessment for nickel sulfate premium, cif China, Japan and Korea was $1,200-1,200 per tonne on April 14.

Fastmarkets’ price assessment for manganese sulfate 32% Mn min, battery grade, exw mainland China was 5,500-6,000 yuan per tonne ($798-871) on April 13.

Northvolt told Fastmarkets that the battery capacity, which will go into trucks, will be ranging 350-450 kWh. The average battery capacity for EVs globally is now at 60 kWh.

The companies unveiled that the capacity is equivalent to the truck’s whole lifetime, in a market where range anxiety that heavy EVs will not have sufficient charge to last still remains.

NCM batteries are more energy-dense than the cheaper alternative, LFP batteries. NCM’s energy density enables vehicles to travel longer distances – a property that suits heavy vehicles.

The battery maker added that the balance of the raw material components will be customized to meet each customer’s needs.

“The future of heavy transport is electric, and to enable the shift and continue delivering on our brand promise toward customers to be premium, Scania needs top-performing battery cells for our electric trucks,” Scania’s CEO Christian Levin said in a statement.

Northvolt only produces nickel cobalt manganese (NCM) batteries at the moment.

The cell is produced at Northvolt Ett gigafactory in northern Sweden. Later this year, Scania will open a new battery factory in Södertälje in Sweden, where battery cells will be assembled into battery packs to kickstart production of heavy-duty electric trucks.

According to the statement, Scania delivered 80,238 trucks and 4,994 buses in 2022.

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