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EV Firm Develops 'World's First' Mass-Produced Cobalt-Free Battery

The new battery will reduce the EV industry's reliance on controversially sourced heavy metal.

EV Firm Develops 'World's First' Mass-Produced Cobalt-Free Battery
SVOLT showcasing the new cobalt-free battery. SVOLT

Though most efforts to make electric vehicle (EV) batteries without using heavy metals are still undergoing laboratory tests, a Chinese firm called SVTOL announced it is ready to start producing a cobalt-free battery at scale, explains a report from Engadget.

Though the transition to EVs was devised in order to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and enable a more sustainable future, the lithium-ion battery industry remains a stain on the EV industry's reputation. 

Lithium-ion batteries are made using heavy metals such as cobalt which are scarce and are also typically mined in areas known for human rights-related labor violations and environmentally destructive practices. That's why, as an example, Tesla is working hard to improve its recycling methods in order to close the loop on EV battery recycling — earlier this month, the EV automaker announced it can now recycle 92 percent of battery cell materials. Firms such as Tesla, IBM, and Panasonic are also doubling down on efforts to make electric batteries without using heavy metals.

Reducing the world's reliance on cobalt

Chinese firm SVTOL, a spinoff of Chinese automaker Great Wall Motors, showed off its 82.5KWh capacity power pack in a Great Wall Motors car at this year's Chengdu Motor Show. SVOLT claims that its electric vehicle battery enables roughly 373 miles (600 km) of range on a single charge and it allows a car to go from zero to 60 mph (100 km/h) in less than five seconds. 

In a press release, SVTOL claims that its product is "the world's first cobalt-free battery which has achieved series production." However, it isn't the first firm to make such claims. Last year, Tesla announced that it was developing cobalt-free lithium-iron-phosphate (LFP) batteries for its Model 3 vehicles in China. Panasonic also claimed last year that it was on the verge of commercializing cobalt-free batteries as part of a partnership with Tesla

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Still, SVTOL says its pack "has passed comprehensive performance tests and safety tests, and test data such as thermal runaway far exceeds national standard requirements." The company claimed that the battery will soon start to be fitted into cars in the Chinese EV market, though it didn't give an exact date as to when its product will be released into the market. Even if SVTOL's claim to be the world's first mass producer of cobalt-free EV batteries doesn't quite stand up to scrutiny, the unveiling of its new product is great news for the environment.

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