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HomeTravelIDTechEx Reveals The Future of Electric CAM Machines with CATL’s US$57/kWh Battery...

IDTechEx Reveals The Future of Electric CAM Machines with CATL’s US$57/kWh Battery – Travel And Tour World

Deeptesh Ghosh

Reading Time: 4 minutes

One of the key attractions of electrification in any industry is the reduction in operating costs offered by electric machines. This is particularly significant in the construction, agriculture, and mining (CAM) sectors. Large machines with high uptimes, such as mining haul trucks, can consume millions of dollars in fuel over their lifetime, making the potential total cost of ownership savings substantial. However, despite this advantage, IDTechEx’s discussions with CAM machine customers reveal that the upfront cost of electric alternatives remains prohibitive. Many customers prefer to stick with cheaper internal combustion machines, even though the lifetime ownership cost is higher.

The primary factor driving up the cost of electric CAM machines is the batteries they use. While battery prices have decreased from the US$500-1,000/kWh range to US$250-300/kWh, they still add significant costs. For example, a mini-excavator might use a 70kWh battery, costing about US$21,000, which is significantly more than the 40-50hp small diesel engine it would replace, not to mention the additional cost of the motor and power electronics, though these are less expensive than the battery.

There is hope, however. Reports from early 2024 suggest that CATL battery prices could be significantly reduced. The automotive industry already benefits from higher volumes and lower prices, typically in the US$100-150/kWh range for lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries. CATL’s VDA cells are expected to be available for as low as US$57/kWh.

Access to batteries at US$57/kWh would greatly reduce the price premium of electric CAM machines. For instance, the 70kWh battery mentioned earlier would drop from US$21,000 to just under US$4,000.

For larger machines, the savings are even more substantial. The largest batteries in electric CAM machines, such as those in haul trucks, can be as large as 1,600kWh. Currently, such a battery might cost around half a million dollars or more. With CATL’s pricing, this could be reduced to under US$100,000. Considering these machines consume massive amounts of fuel over their lifetimes, the battery premium is repaid many times over. Reducing the upfront cost by over US$400,000 would make electric alternatives much more competitive with internal combustion machines and significantly shorten the time to recoup the investment.

It’s important to note that LFP batteries are cheaper than nickel manganese cobalt (NMC) batteries because they don’t offer the same performance. LFP batteries tend to be larger and heavier, making them harder to fit into a vehicle. In the automotive industry, this means electric cars with LFP batteries have shorter ranges than those with NMC batteries. For CAM machines, downtime is costly, and customers need batteries that can last a full day’s work. Therefore, a cheap LFP option is only viable if its energy density is sufficient to meet the capacity requirements of the machine being electrified.

IDTechEx’s report “Battery Markets in Construction, Agriculture & Mining Machines 2024-2034” analyzes the battery requirements of 15 different machine types used across CAM markets. The report finds that nine out of these 15 machine types are well-suited to LFP battery technologies. For some machines, such as mini-excavators and tractors, the combination of highly energy-intensive work and limited chassis space makes NMC batteries preferable. However, for most machine types, ample chassis space mitigates the volumetric energy density shortfall of LFP batteries, and battery weight is not a significant issue, making the gravimetric deficit of LFP batteries irrelevant. This is supported by data from IDTechEx’s database of over 200 electric CAM vehicles, showing that more than half of the available options already use LFP batteries.

Other technologies with even greater cost reduction potential are poised to challenge LFP’s dominance in the electric CAM machine industry. Sodium-ion batteries, for example, use a design similar to lithium-ion batteries but replace the expensive lithium charge carrier with cheaper sodium. Despite lithium constituting only a small portion of battery materials and not significantly contributing to the cost, sodium-ion batteries offer slight cost reductions. However, they typically have worse energy density than lithium batteries, limiting their applications in CAM machines. Nonetheless, sodium-ion batteries could still be viable for larger machines where the cost benefits are more significant, and these machines can accommodate heavier and more voluminous batteries.

IDTechEx’s report also examines 10 different battery technologies at various stages of market readiness, benchmarking each against the traits required for different CAM machine types. This provides a guide to which new technologies might fit within this diverse industry.

A price of US$57/kWh is remarkably low for the automotive industry and will further reduce the cost of electric cars, promoting widespread adoption and helping to reduce global carbon emissions. Unfortunately, due to the lower production volumes of CAM machines, it is unlikely that electric CAM machines will benefit from these savings in the near future. However, as production volumes increase, IDTechEx expects prices to approach today’s typical automotive battery pricing. In the long term, electric CAM machine manufacturers may eventually source batteries for as little as US$57/kWh, signaling a promising future.

The post IDTechEx Reveals The Future of Electric CAM Machines with CATL’s US$57/kWh Battery appeared first on Travel And Tour World.

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