The Batteries That Helped EVs Of The 2020s Take Off

As of the early 2020s, Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP), Lithium Nickel Manganese Cobalt (NMC), and Nickel Cobalt Aluminium Oxide (NCA) are by far the most predominant Li-ion battery chemistries used in EVs worldwide. According to reports from the IEA, as of 2022, the most widely used battery chemistry was lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide (NMC), holding a majority market share of 60%. Following closely behind was lithium iron phosphate (LFP), which held a market share of just under 30%. Lastly, nickel cobalt aluminum oxide (NCA) held a market share of about 8%.

EV battery manufacturers have long been aware of the advantages and disadvantages of the three primary battery chemistries. Each chemistry is suitable for specific applications and operating conditions, and as a result, manufacturers tend to rely on a specific mix of elements based on their requirements. Most EV batteries can be repurposed to store energy in stationary applications.


A majority of EV companies at the dawn of the Electric Vehicle revolution used LFP batteries, due to their affordability, robustness, and safety. Even today, smaller EVs, personal electric mobility, and base-level versions of EV cars often utilize LFP. Due to advances in NMC battery safety and manufacturing, EV OEMs are increasingly preferring NMC batteries due to their higher energy density, which are typically used in top-end or 'sport' versions of EVs.

LFP - Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO₄)

LFP batteries use lithium iron phosphate as the cathode and graphite as the anode. They are known for their exceptional durability and safety. However, LFP cells are typically heavier and provide less range due to their lower energy density. Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP) batteries have emerged as a popular choice for EVs, owing to their impressive cycle life, reliability, cost-effectiveness, and safety.

Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP) batteries are known for their ability to withstand more charge and discharge cycles without significant capacity degradation. They are the predominant battery type used in the global Electric Vehicle (EV) ecosystem due to their lower risk of thermal runaway, a phenomenon where a battery overheats and catches fire. LFP batteries are also the preferred choice for bidirectional charging and have found their way into consumer electronics.

LFP batteries are better suited for extreme temperatures and are easier to keep safe than NMC batteries, which require additional innovation and engineering to keep safe. Nonetheless, recent advancements in Battery Management System (BMS) technology and other innovations in thermal runaway prevention and mitigation are narrowing the safety gap between these two battery types.

NMC - Lithium Nickel Manganese Cobalt (LiNiMnCoO₂)

NMC (Nickel Manganese Cobalt) batteries are known for their superior energy density compared to other battery chemistries. This means that electric vehicle batteries using NMC chemistry can store more energy in a smaller size, resulting in increased power and range for EVs without adding extra 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.

NMC batteries are composed of nickel, manganese, and cobalt along with lithium. They offer higher energy density, which translates to more driving range. They are also less sensitive to low temperatures, meaning they can charge faster in cold climates. However, they are more expensive and have a shorter cycle life than LFP batteries

However, variants of the NMC battery do have a shorter life span and narrower operational temperature ranges than LFP batteries.

LTO - Lithium Titanate Oxide (Li₄Ti₅O₁₂)

The emerging Lithium Titanate Oxide (LTO) batteries exhibit high power characteristics that make them capable of fast charging and discharging, leading to shorter charge times and superior performance. In addition, they boast an impressive lifespan and are highly safe, demonstrating no signs of combustion even when subjected to significant physical damage.

However, their energy density is significantly lower than other battery technologies, which results in limited range and lower performance in Electric Vehicles (EVs). To overcome this limitation, LTO batteries can be scaled up in size to increase their capacity and compensate for the lower energy density.

NCA - Nickel Cobalt Aluminium Oxide (LiNiCoAlO₂)

NCA (Lithiated Nickel Cobalt Aluminum Oxide) batteries are a popular choice for high-performance electric vehicles due to their superior energy density and high charge and discharge rates. However, these batteries are considerably expensive and require additional safety measures compared to other battery types.

Choosing the right chemistry

Materials matter: The selection depends on the quality, cost, performance, and circularity of materials like lithium, nickel, cobalt, copper, graphite, aluminum, phosphorous, manganese, and gold.

Use case matters: EV manufacturers carefully choose the chemistry based on their specific requirements, driving conditions, and safety considerations.

Environment matters: Battery production and disposal have a significant environmental impact. EV OEMs must choose eco-friendly and recyclable battery chemistries or recycled battery raw materials, considering the full life cycle of the batteries.

The quest for better EV batteries continues, with ongoing research and innovations aiming to enhance energy density, safety, and overall performance.