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The Six Major Types of Lithium-ion Batteries: A Visual Comparison

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battery technology series part 1 of 2
battery technology series part 2 of 2

types of lithium-ion batteries

The Six Types of Lithium-ion Batteries: A Visual Comparison

Lithium-ion batteries are at the center of the clean energy transition as the key technology powering electric vehicles (EVs) and energy storage systems.

However, there are many types of lithium-ion batteries, each with pros and cons.

The above infographic shows the tradeoffs between the six major lithium-ion cathode technologies based on research by Miao et al. and Battery University. This is the first of two infographics in our Battery Technology Series.

Understanding the Six Main Lithium-ion Technologies

Each of the six different types of lithium-ion batteries has a different chemical composition.

The anodes of most lithium-ion batteries are made from graphite. Typically, the mineral composition of the cathode is what changes, making the difference between battery chemistries.

The cathode material typically contains lithium along with other minerals including nickel, manganese, cobalt, or iron. This composition ultimately determines the battery’s capacity, power, performance, cost, safety, and lifespan.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the six major lithium-ion cathode technologies.

#1: Lithium Nickel Manganese Cobalt Oxide (NMC)

NMC cathodes typically contain large proportions of nickel, which increases the battery’s energy density and allows for longer ranges in EVs. However, high nickel content can make the battery unstable, which is why manganese and cobalt are used to improve thermal stability and safety. Several NMC combinations have seen commercial success, including NMC811 (composed of 80% nickel, 10% manganese, and 10% cobalt), NMC532, and NMC622.

#2: Lithium Nickel Cobalt Aluminum Oxide (NCA)

NCA batteries share nickel-based advantages with NMC, including high energy density and specific power. Instead of manganese, NCA uses aluminum to increase stability. However, NCA cathodes are relatively less safe than other Li-ion technologies, more expensive, and typically only used in high-performance EV models.

#3: Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP)

Due to their use of iron and phosphate instead of nickel and cobalt, LFP batteries are cheaper to make than nickel-based variants. However, they offer lesser specific energy and are more suitable for standard- or short-range EVs. Additionally, LFP is considered one of the safest chemistries and has a long lifespan, enabling its use in energy storage systems.

#4: Lithium Cobalt Oxide (LCO)

Although LCO batteries are highly energy-dense, their drawbacks include a relatively short lifespan, low thermal stability, and limited specific power. Therefore, these batteries are a popular choice for low-load applications like smartphones and laptops, where they can deliver relatively smaller amounts of power for long durations.

#5: Lithium Manganese Oxide (LMO)

Also known as manganese spinel batteries, LMO batteries offer enhanced safety and fast charging and discharging capabilities. In EVs, LMO cathode material is often blended with NMC, where the LMO part provides a high current upon acceleration, and NMC enables longer driving ranges.

#6: Lithium Titanate (LTO)

Unlike the other chemistries above, where the cathode composition makes the difference, LTO batteries use a unique anode surface made of lithium and titanium oxides. These batteries exhibit excellent safety and performance under extreme temperatures but have low capacity and are relatively expensive, limiting their use at scale.

Which Batteries Dominate the EV Market?

Now that we know about the six main types of lithium-ion batteries, which of these dominate the EV market, and how will that change in the future?

To find out, stay tuned for Part 2 of the Battery Technology Series, where we’ll look at the top EV battery chemistries by forecasted market share from 2021 through 2026.

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Charted: 4 Reasons Why Lithium Could Be the Next Gold Rush

Visual Capitalist has partnered with EnergyX to show why drops in prices and growing demand may make now the right time to invest in lithium.

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The teaser image shows a bubble chart showing that the price of a Tesla is similar to that of other major auto manufacturers.

4 Reasons Why You Should Invest in Lithium

Lithium’s importance in powering EVs makes it a linchpin of the clean energy transition and one of the world’s most precious minerals.

In this graphic, Visual Capitalist partnered with EnergyX to explore why now may be the time to invest in lithium.

1. Lithium Prices Have Dropped

One of the most critical aspects of evaluating an investment is ensuring that the asset’s value is higher than its price would indicate. Lithium is integral to powering EVs, and, prices have fallen fast over the last year:

DateLiOH·H₂O*Li₂CO₃**
Feb 2023$76$71
March 2023$71$61
Apr 2023$43$33
May 2023$43$33
June 2023$47$45
July 2023$44$40
Aug 2023$35$35
Sept 2023$28$27
Oct 2023$24$23
Nov 2023$21$21
Dec 2023$17$16
Jan 2024$14$15
Feb 2024$13$14

Note: Monthly spot prices were taken as close to the 14th of each month as possible.
*Lithium hydroxide monohydrate (MB-LI-0033)
**Lithium carbonate (MB-LI-0029)

2. Lithium-Ion Battery Prices Are Also Falling

The drop in lithium prices is just one reason to invest in the metal. Increasing economies of scale, coupled with low commodity prices, have caused the cost of lithium-ion batteries to drop significantly as well.

In fact, BNEF reports that between 2013 and 2023, the price of a Li-ion battery dropped by 82%.

YearPrice per KWh
2023$139
2022$161
2021$150
2020$160
2019$183
2018$211
2017$258
2016$345
2015$448
2014$692
2013$780

3. EV Adoption is Sustainable

One of the best reasons to invest in lithium is that EVs, one of the main drivers behind the demand for lithium, have reached a price point similar to that of traditional vehicle.

According to the Kelly Blue Book, Tesla’s average transaction price dropped by 25% between 2022 and 2023, bringing it in line with many other major manufacturers and showing that EVs are a realistic transport option from a consumer price perspective.

ManufacturerSeptember 2022September 2023
BMW$69,000$72,000
Ford$54,000$56,000
Volkswagon$54,000$56,000
General Motors$52,000$53,000
Tesla$68,000$51,000

4. Electricity Demand in Transport is Growing

As EVs become an accessible transport option, there’s an investment opportunity in lithium. But possibly the best reason to invest in lithium is that the IEA reports global demand for the electricity in transport could grow dramatically by 2030:

Transport Type202220252030
Buses 🚌23,000 GWh50,000 GWh130,000 GWh
Cars 🚙65,000 GWh200,000 GWh570,000 GWh
Trucks 🛻4,000 GWh15,000 GWh94,000 GWh
Vans 🚐6,000 GWh16,000 GWh72,000 GWh

The Lithium Investment Opportunity

Lithium presents a potentially classic investment opportunity. Lithium and battery prices have dropped significantly, and recently, EVs have reached a price point similar to other vehicles. By 2030, the demand for clean energy, especially in transport, will grow dramatically.

With prices dropping and demand skyrocketing, now is the time to invest in lithium.

EnergyX is poised to exploit lithium demand with cutting-edge lithium extraction technology capable of extracting 300% more lithium than current processes.

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Ranked: The Top 10 EV Battery Manufacturers in 2023

Asia dominates this ranking of the world’s largest EV battery manufacturers in 2023.

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A treemap showing the top 10 EV battery manufacturers in 2023

The Top 10 EV Battery Manufacturers in 2023

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

Despite efforts from the U.S. and EU to secure local domestic supply, all major EV battery manufacturers remain based in Asia.

In this graphic we rank the top 10 EV battery manufacturers by total battery deployment (measured in megawatt-hours) in 2023. The data is from EV Volumes.

Chinese Dominance

Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Limited (CATL) has swiftly risen in less than a decade to claim the title of the largest global battery group.

The Chinese company now has a 34% share of the market and supplies batteries to a range of made-in-China vehicles, including the Tesla Model Y, SAIC’s MG4/Mulan, and Li Auto models.

CompanyCountry2023 Production
(megawatt-hour)
Share of Total
Production
CATL🇨🇳China242,70034%
BYD🇨🇳China115,91716%
LG Energy Solution🇰🇷Korea108,48715%
Panasonic🇯🇵Japan56,5608%
SK On🇰🇷Korea40,7116%
Samsung SDI🇰🇷Korea35,7035%
CALB🇨🇳China23,4933%
Farasis Energy🇨🇳China16,5272%
Envision AESC🇨🇳China8,3421%
Sunwoda🇨🇳China6,9791%
Other-56,0408%

In 2023, BYD surpassed LG Energy Solution to claim second place. This was driven by demand from its own models and growth in third-party deals, including providing batteries for the made-in-Germany Tesla Model Y, Toyota bZ3, Changan UNI-V, Venucia V-Online, as well as several Haval and FAW models.

The top three battery makers (CATL, BYD, LG) collectively account for two-thirds (66%) of total battery deployment.

Once a leader in the EV battery business, Panasonic now holds the fourth position with an 8% market share, down from 9% last year. With its main client, Tesla, now effectively sourcing batteries from multiple suppliers, the Japanese battery maker seems to be losing its competitive edge in the industry.

Overall, the global EV battery market size is projected to grow from $49 billion in 2022 to $98 billion by 2029, according to Fortune Business Insights.

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