Following reports from China earlier this month, battery giant CATL has confirmed production of its M3P batteries which will ship next year. Although the chemistry may be similar, CATL said M3P batteries differ from lithium manganese iron phosphate (LMFP) cells.
Contemporary Amperex Technology Co Ltd., aka CATL, is a global energy technology company and China’s leading electric vehicle battery manufacturer. Beyond Asia, the company retained its crown as the world’s largest battery manufacturer by installed capacity for a fifth consecutive year.
Earlier this month, rumors began to surface about CATL’s “M3P” batteries, which were briefly mentioned by the battery company in February among other upcoming technologies like sodium-ion batteries.
The initial hypothesis was that the M3P of CATL the chemistry was that of the LMFPas local Chinese media said the chemistry passed interim tests earlier in the year and CATL will now send samples to automakers for further testing.
As CnEVPost pointed out, a source close to CATL’s investor relations team revealed a day later that the company was actually developing its M3P batteries, but their chemistry is different than that of an LMFP battery.
Now CATL has officially come out and confirmed this, although we don’t know much else about these M3P drums.
CATL’s M3P batteries expected to cost less than LMFP chemistry
At the 2022 Global EV&ES Battery Conference in China yesterday, CATL Chief Scientist Wu Kai said that M3P batteries have already reached volume production and will hit the market in 2023. The President CATL’s Robin Zeng also briefly mentioned M3P batteries for the first time since February, but didn’t provide any additional details.
What we have learned from investigative reports in China following the misreporting of M3P batteries containing LMFP chemistry is that the former are similar, but not quite. CATL indicates that M3P cells also contain other metallic elements not present in LMFPs.
Instead, the company prefers to refer to the upcoming technology as a “phosphate chemistry system ternary lithium battery.” according to a report of Gasgoo. Regardless of what makes up M3P batteries, they are promised to deliver greater energy density than lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries, but at cost parity with lithium ternary cells.
We don’t yet know what that official density will be, but for comparison, LMFP batteries have a theoretical energy density 15-20% higher than LFP batteries, but at a similar price.
Whatever CATL does differently in its proprietary M3P batteries, it seems to have helped reduce costs – a big plus for EV innovation and hopefully cheaper EVs in the future. More details are sure to come as CATL looks to bring its latest battery technology to market next year.
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