BYD readies EV battery production in Brazil
Although the Mercosur region is home to a considerable amount of lithium - a main ingredient for electric vehicle (EV) batteries - it is currently extracted from salt flats in Argentina, Bolivia, and Chile which are not the best of quality, EV expert Adalberto Maluf told Global Fleet.
“The condition of the lithium is okay but there are reserves in Brazil that are lithium minerals. Not only are they better in quality, the operational cost for extraction is lower,” said Maluf, adding however that CAPEX would be higher in Brazil.
Overall, the advantages outweigh the disadvantages, according to Maluf who is the director of marketing, sustainability and new business in Latin America for Chinese automobile and electric battery maker BYD.
As such, the company intends to start manufacturing battery cells in Brazil by the end of 2018. It intends to open up a factory in Amazonas state capital Manaus and it will include nationalizing all of its components.
Initially, the batteries will be used for BYD vehicles. However, the company is studying the possibility of eventually developing them for other vehicle suppliers. The batteries will have 10 to 12-year guarantees, the longest in the market.
The technology BYD is using is iron phosphate lithium (known as LFP in Brazil) and, according to Maluf, this type of battery has three advantages.
First of all, it does not catch fire and explode so it is the safest type of battery in the market, the executive said.
Moreover, it is the only battery that can be 100% recycled so it is environmentally friendly. It is easier to recycle than other types such as Transdernized Lithium, GLCA, and Cobalt Aluminum.
Finally, the last-minute life of the battery is very good, meaning that it last longer than other types such as Manganese, Cobalt, and Aluminum Cobalt. The batteries last 30 years, of which 10-15 are in the vehicle and another 10-15 to be used at energy storage stations.
“Thereafter, some of the useful minerals such as lithium, cobalt, and iron can be used. Actually, due to new technologies, EV batteries are not an environmental problem like they were in the past,” said Maluf.
Adelberto Maluf (Source: BYD)
Energy generation could be dirty. Energy matrix are very clean. Recharge facility based on solar energy. We have a have a zero-emission plan.
To support the market, BYD builds its own recharging facilities after vehicles are sold. Besides using solar energy which is part of the company’s zero-emission plan, it also follows the European standard (type 2) which enables its rechargers to be compatible with other cars. In fact, “all manufacturers should work on following one common standard,” the executive said.
In Latin America, BYD is the EV sales leader in Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, and Colombia, mainly serving B2B clients. The company, however, has recently entered the B2C segment, starting in markets that are more open and countries which have had Chinese brands for a while.
For now, they are testing the markets of Chile, Uruguay, Ecuador, and Peru.
BYD full-electric crossover e6 (Source: BYD)