A Handful of Lithium Battery Patents Are Set to Expire Before the End of the Year, Hopefully Bringing EV Prices Down With Them

Follow along as we explain why a scattering of lithium battery patents controlled by China are expiring, and how access to this formerly exclusive battery tech could help carmakers lower the cost of their EVs.
Written by Jason Crosby
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
Lithium-iron-phosphate batteries: does the name ring a bell? Probably not, as this older, safer form of battery technology has been locked under Chinese-bought patent agreements for years. These lithium battery patents are up for expiration, though, and it’s a good sign for carmakers everywhere. Because as these lithium battery patents start expiring, so will
high prices—hopefully. 
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What do lithium battery patents have to do with EV prices?

explains that most batteries on the market right now are lithium-ion batteries, but the ones protected under patents funded by China are lithium-iron-phosphate batteries, more commonly known as LFPs. 
They’re cheaper, don’t use ultra-rare raw materials like cobalt and nickel, and are less likely to catch fire than lithium-ion batteries. But under the past patent protection, most carmakers have resorted to researching other lithium-based concoctions. All of these patent expirations may soon change that, helping to lower the need for such expensive materials, and thereby EV price tags.
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Expiring lithium battery patents will affect the cost of production for EV makers

Advanced Propulsion Centre UK
forecasted in September of 2022 that a quarter of EVs built in Europe will use LFPs. Industry analysts have a few theories about the potential future of LFPs, projecting that the iron-based batteries will power entry-level and cheaper vehicles, while nickel-based cells will be used for higher-end and performance cars. 
What this could mean is that the cheaper batteries, thanks to new access to lithium battery patents, could make EVs more affordable, though the discount may only apply to the entry-level vehicles that LFPs are used in. 

Even with the expiring patents, global lithium supply will affect EV prices in the future 

According to the same report from the Advanced Propulsion Centre, the growing scarcity of lithium could possibly cut down global EV sales in 2030 from a forecasted 40 million to a total of 25 million EVs. 
For those interested in entry-level EVs, the lithium bottleneck could still slow production. However, LFPs will likely stay popular, because the NMC (nickel-manganese-cobalt) batteries the industry currently favors are getting more expensive, as these rare metals are also in short supply.

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