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4680 Battery: The “Dark War” of New Cars and Battery Plants

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4680 Battery: The “Dark War” of New Cars and Battery Plants

The price increase of raw materials starting in 2020 will finally be transmitted to the automotive terminal in 2022, and there is a sound of price increases in the market. Behind these noises and frustrations, new technologies are accelerating their penetration, which may change the pattern of new energy vehicles in the future.

March 17,TeslaThe official website shows,Tesla The Model Y rear-wheel drive version has been raised by 15,000 yuan, and the price has been adjusted from 301,800 yuan to 316,900 yuan.This isTesla Third price increase in 8 days. On March 10, Tesla China announced that the price of the high-end Model 3 high-performance version, as well as the Model Y long-life version/high-performance version, will increase by 10,000 yuan; on March 15, some models of Model 3 and Model Y will increase the price. , ranging from 14,000 to 20,000 yuan. At present, the waiting period for picking up a car for all price-adjusted models is around 16-20 weeks.

In fact, it is not just Tesla. Since March, nearly 20 new energy vehicle companies have announced price increases, ranging from a few thousand yuan to more than 10,000 yuan. The reason behind this is mainly due to the recent rise in the prices of raw materials such as nickel and lithium. For example, the price of lithium carbonate has risen from 50,000 yuan per ton to the current 500,000 yuan per ton in one year.

To further reduce costs, there are generally two ways: one is to expand the production capacity of raw materials, and related companies have begun to vigorously expand production. However, it will take time for the production capacity to actually be implemented, and short-term problems cannot be solved; another way is to make a fuss about the structure, materials and other links, and realize it through design and production process.

Since 2022, among the technologies that have attracted much attention in the automotive industry, there are 4680 Batteryand CTC (cells are directly integrated with the chassis). The latest information is that Tesla announced in mid-February that it had produced 1 million 4680 units at its pilot plant in California. Battery

NDRC Price Monitoring Center Automobile Industry ChiefanalystCheng Xiaodong told Geek Park that the current skyrocketing price of raw materials has exceeded the affordability of many companies, so they are considering reducing costs and increasing efficiency. 4680 BatteryIn line with the demands of increasing mileage and reducing costs, many players are making layouts. However, at present, the 4680 battery is still in the trial production stage and has not really entered the mass production stage. How to improve the yield rate and overcome the difficulties of the manufacturing process will be the key to the future.

  01

  What is a 4680 battery?

The 4680 battery was first released by Tesla on “Battery Day” in September 2020. The so-called “4680 battery”, simply put, is a cylindrical battery with a cell diameter of 46mm and a height of 80mm. This is the third-generation battery developed by Tesla, previously using 1865 batteries and 2170 batteries. Compared with the previous two generations of batteries, the 4680 battery is a larger cylindrical ternary battery.

Panasonic’s 4680 battery prototype for Tesla

  In principle, the innovation of the 4680 cylindrical battery is more of a structural level, not a material system.But from the application level, high nickel and high silicon can give full play to the advantages of the 4680 large cylinder. Compared with the square battery, the 4680 cylindrical battery has better thermal performance and uniform internal stress distribution. At present, in terms of positive and negative electrode materials, there is not much difference between 4680 at home and abroad, mainly “high nickel + graphite”, “high nickel + silicon carbon/silicon oxygen”, which is also the current industry of other shapes of cells. Strategy.

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This is also in line with the current development trend of power batteries. On the material side, ternary batteries have begun to move towards high nickel and low cobalt/cobalt-free, which can reduce costs and reduce constraints caused by shortages of raw materials; in terms of battery structure, modules begin to move towards The module-free solution can make more full use of space.

In fact, there is a question hidden here, why did Tesla choose 4680 batteries instead of other specifications?Everbright SecuritiesexistResearch reportsaid inThe 4680 achieves a balance between cost reduction and volume reduction (cruising range).On the one hand, increasing the size of the cylindrical battery can reduce the cost of structural parts, but the magnitude of the cost reduction will be flat. In September 2020, Musk said that the energy density of the 4680 battery has been increased by 5 times, the cruising range has been increased by 16%, the output power has been increased by 6 times, and the cost has been reduced by 14%.

On the other hand, if the size of the cylindrical battery is too large, the space utilization rate will be reduced, which will reduce the volume energy density of the battery cell, which will affect the battery life. At the same time, the heat dissipation problem of the large battery cell has always plagued the development of the battery industry. important difficulty. Therefore, in terms of the balance between cost reduction and battery life, the 4680 is considered to be an “optimal solution”.

  It should be noted here that there is a range of optimal solutions, 4680 generally refers to the size of the large cylindrical battery, and also includes other models such as 4695.

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Tesla 4680 battery diagram

In order to really put the 4680 battery to the ground, Tesla has adopted many new technologies, such as electrodeless ear technology and electrode dry process. This also makes it encounter great challenges in the production process, among which the consistency and mass production of cells are particularly prominent. It is understood that the diameter of the 4680 cell is more than twice that of the 2170 cell, and the volume is 5 times that of the 2170 cell. Inconsistency issues.

At the same time, this also directly affects the battery yield. Shirley Meng, a professor at the University of Chicago, has said that Musk may experience a “valley of death” when it comes to large-scale use of the dry electrode manufacturing process. In addition to that, there is a rather lengthy process of fine-tuning the equipment before mass production begins. “Battery production is difficult, even for experienced suppliers.”

Reality does. According to the report of IT House, in the early days, the yield rate of 4680 cells was only 20%. After continuous technical improvement, the yield rate has increased to 70%-80%. It is understood that the mass production of 4680 cells is difficult, and a 90% yield is a requirement for mass production.

Recently, relevant manufacturers have also continued to fine-tune to improve the battery yield. A few days ago, a summary of the exchange of experts from a battery cell company showed that as of November 2021, the yield rate of Panasonic and LG New Energy’s 4680 cells was around 80-90%.Ningde eraThe yield of the products is about 80%, and the others are maintained at about 70% or even lower.

The news that Tesla is making 1 million 4680 cells is generated in this context. According to estimates by industry insiders, 1 million cells can only assemble 1,041 Model Y vehicles, which is far from meeting the current market demand. But this news indicates that the 4680 battery is about to enter the real mass production stage.

  02

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  Open “New Copy”

In terms of capacity planning, since Tesla released the 4680 battery in 2020, major battery factories have followed up the layout. At present, in foreign countries, Panasonic Battery said that it is expected that the trial production of 4680 batteries will start in April 2022, but the time and location of mass production has not yet been determined; South Korea’s LG New Energy and Samsung SDI are also very positive about 4680 batteries . According to the latest information disclosed, both LG New Energy and Samsung SDI have completed the sample development of 4680 batteries, and are optimizing the yield of materials, production lines and other manufacturing issues.

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4680 battery

Domestically,Ningde eraYiwei Lithium Energy, BAK Battery, Honeycomb Energy and many other battery companies are also actively deploying. In February 2022, Business Korea was quoted as saying by the Financial Associated Press,Ningde eraYiwei Lithium EnergyBAK Battery will put into mass production of 4680 batteries this year.

in,Yiwei Lithium EnergyAnd BAK Battery is actively expanding the plant.It is understood that in November 2021, Yiwei Lithium Energy will releaseannouncementSaid that it will invest in the construction of a 20GWh large cylindrical battery capacity project in Jingmen. According to industry analysts, Yiwei Lithium’s 20GWh large cylindrical battery project is mainly 4680 and 4695 large cylindrical battery production lines. It is expected that part of its 4680 large cylindrical battery production line will be completed and put into operation step by step.

As the 4680 battery approaches mass production, it may open up a “new copy” of the power battery industry and impact the current competitive landscape.

  Tianfeng SecuritiesAccording to the research report, CATL optimized the shells of several square-shell cells and turned them into winding cores in parallel to reduce costs; however, compared with 4680 cascades, large square-shell cells are difficult to reduce due to impedance, and the cost is similar. Under certain conditions, fast charging will be weaker than 4680 cells, and 4680 cells can meet end consumers who have requirements for cruising range and charging experience.

According to data from the South Korean market research agency SNE, in 2021, among the top ten companies with the highest installed capacity, there will be 6 Chinese companies and 3 Korean companies, and Panasonic will become the only remaining Japanese company. Among them, the global installed capacity of CATL reached 96.7GWh, with a market share of 32.6%, ranking first in the world. LG New Energy (20.3%) and Panasonic (12.2%) are close behind, which are considered the first tier.

It is worth mentioning that the market shares of the top three in 2020 are still relatively close, 24.6%, 23.4%, and 18.4%, respectively, but the development speed in 2021 is different, and the gap has widened.BYDSK On, Samsung SDI, China Innovation Airlines,Guoxuan Hi-TechEnvision Power, and Honeycomb Energy ranked fourth to tenth.

Next, there may be further changes and adjustments in the ranking of the power battery.

  03

  Future “Black Technology”

On the battery day in September 2020, in addition to releasing 4680 cells, Tesla also released a new whole-package packaging technology CTC (Cell to Chassis), that is, canceling the battery pack (Pack) design and directly connecting the battery to the battery pack. The core or module is mounted on the body. Musk once said that after the use of CTC technology, combined with integrated die-casting technology, 370 parts can be saved, the body weight can be reduced by 10%, and the battery cost per kWh can be reduced by 7%.

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Tesla’s future car body architecture

This also means that the battery is both an energy device and a structure itself. CTC uses the battery pack as a part of the body structure, connecting the front and rear two large castings of the body, canceling the original cockpit floor, replacing the battery upper cover, and the seat is directly installed on the battery upper cover. At the same time, CTC technology is not only suitable for 4680 cells, but also for its 2170 cells, and it is expected that it will be compatible with other size cells in the future.

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Compared with the traditional structure, CTC is undoubtedly a huge innovation at the physical level. The traditional practice is to combine several battery cells into modules, and several modules into battery packs. The current mainstream CTP technology is from the monomer to the battery pack (cell to pack), skipping the module, directly forming the battery pack, increasing the space utilization rate, and then improving the energy density.There are two main routes in China: one is based onBYDA completely module-free solution represented by blade batteries and L600 6-cell batteries from Honeycomb Energy; another solution represented by the CATL era is a solution that replaces small modules with large modules.

From battery modules to CTPs to CTCs, it reflects the trend of battery system integration. However, CTC is not a simple extension of CTP. CTP does not break through PACK itself, and battery companies and professional PACK companies can complete development independently. However, the emergence of CTC will break through the limitations of PACK and directly involve the chassis of the car, which is difficult for battery companies and professional PACK companies to develop independently.

  The result of this may be a readjustment of the business model and division of labor and collaboration, and the dominance is gradually shifting to car companies.According to industry insiders, CTP is a way for the battery cell factory to regain the output value of the pack from the OEM, and CTC is a means for the OEM to grab the right to speak to the battery cell factory.

  Guohai SecuritiesAccording to the research report, CTC will change the division of labor in the new energy vehicle industry chain, and the future industrial trend will revolve around three aspects: one is the complete vehicle enterprise with technological research and development advantages, which will control more CTC dominance; the other is the main focus of autonomous driving Other OEMs operating with light assets will be handed over to a third party to lead CTC development; in addition, in the scenario where a third party leads CTC development, chassis manufacturers will compete and cooperate with battery manufacturers.

Although the high integration of CTC is the future direction, its specific implementation has its own rhythm. From the current plan, 4680+CTC will be mainly used in high-end cars; Ningde era square CTP,BYDBlade CTP, and Honeycomb Energy “six” battery LCTP three types, will be mainly used in mid-range models. This is mainly because the cylinder is more suitable for the high nickel ternary than the square. In contrast, iron-lithium has stable chemical properties and lower requirements for heat dissipation and thermal runaway than ternary. Therefore, square CTP is very suitable for batteries with iron-lithium system.

At the same time, the 4680+CTC solution will help battery factories to produce standardized products with high efficiency on a large scale. In the future, car companies that have not yet been deeply tied to battery head companies may take the initiative to accept 4680 large cylindrical batteries.

With the continuous penetration and evolution of new energy vehicles, there will definitely be more “black technologies” in the future. However, the implementation of new technologies is not achieved overnight, and requires a certain timing and rhythm. Whoever grasps it well will be able to seize the opportunity in the future.

(Article source: Geek Park)

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