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Start-up Hits Milestone In Race For Cheaper American EV Batteries



Source: Mega Agency
A Silicon Valley start-up has taken a key step towards cheaper, all-American batteries for electric vehicles.
Mitra Chem has started shipping a domestically-produced version of a vital battery component to a major battery manufacturer, a significant step towards it helping power electric vehicles (EVs.)
The company is one of the few American producers of Lithium-Iron-Phosphate (LFP) cathodes. Cathodes send power from the battery into EVs’ propulsion systems.
Until this year, China held patents for the LFP cathode technology, which is much cheaper to manufacture than the Nickel Manganese Cobalt (NMC) cathode technology used by manufacturers elsewhere.
EV manufacturers have increasingly turned to LFP-based batteries to keep down the overall price of their cars, with Tesla announcing the shift last year.
Elon Musk’s company is now delivering half its new cars with the technology, including its Models 3 and Y, and plans to use LFP cathodes in two-thirds of new Teslas. But it is dependent on China for the supply of the batteries.
Mitra Chem plans to break Chinese dominance by manufacturing the LFP cathodes in purpose-built factories in the U.S., which will also help unlock tax breaks for EV buyers under Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act.
It specifies that only EVs with domestically-sourced batteries will get tax breaks from 2024 on, prompting a rush among EV and battery manufacturers to look for affordable American components.
Mitra Chem is now shipping the American-made LFP cathodes to its first major battery manufacturer – which it has not named – and says it has been asked by virtually every one of the major battery makers for samples of its technology.
“EV manufacturers and cell-makers want U.S.-made LFP cathodes and they want it now,” said CEO Vivas Kumar.
“Mitra Chem is one of the only companies outside China that has the plans and capability to produce these cathodes at scale. We have heard the feedback from customers and are rapidly scaling to meet this tremendous surge in demand.”
Kumar, a former Tesla executive who was involved in sourcing battery components and materials for Musk’s company, is being backed by investors including billionaire Chamath Palihapitiya.
Biden’s administration wants to dramatically increase domestic EV production. As well as Tesla, GM and Ford have unveiled massive plans to shift from traditional cars and trucks to electric ones, while California has passed legislation to ban sales of new internal combustion cars by 2035.