M&M supplies battery cells through partnerships with BYD and Farasis
Mahindra and Volkswagen partnered exactly one year ago to supply EV parts to Mahindra’s upcoming INGLO-based vehicles, including batteries and motors, but it appears that this process has fallen behind schedule. The main problem, according to sources in the industry, is that it may take until 2026-27 for these key parts to be delivered in VW’s MEB architecture. A new electric car from Mahindra – the .e8 – is expected to launch in late 2024 as the company’s first electric car.
Several other battery suppliers were considered shortly after Mahindra & Mahindra signed the VW deal to be sure its supply base would not be disrupted as post-Covid-19 when supply was disrupted.
The local automaker had previously struggled with batteries for the XUV400 that used LG Chem’s pocket cells with the NMC 532 cathode. However, the Korean battery supplier stopped producing the chemical 532 and did not able to supply Mahindra’s battery cells in the required quantities, which also caused the XUV400 to be delayed. However, Mahindra has since managed to secure a constant supply of batteries for the XUV400 from Chinese battery maker Farasis, which produces cells with similar chemical composition and structure to LG Chem.
The Farasis company will provide batteries with capacities ranging from 32kWh to 40kWh for the XUV400, while BYD will be providing batteries with capacities of 60kWh and 80kWh for the upcoming “Born electric vehicles”. Mahindra has also received an electric motor from French component supplier Valeo that will drive the .e8.
Sources revealed that dealing with VW was more difficult than Mahindra anticipated, with a lot of paperwork involved in dealing with intellectual property, legal and compliance issues. But having a non-exclusive agreement with VW, Mahindra negotiated with BYD almost simultaneously. The “Born Electric” series has been designed with two battery sizes, 60kWh and 80kWh packs, both with LFP technology. VW offers a 60 kWh package, while BYD offers an 80 kWh plan. The reason Mahindra chose BYD for the larger battery is because VW can’t offer the 80kWh option that BYD can, with its blade cell technology.
However, due to delays from VW, BYD will offer 60kWh and 80kWh batteries from launch until VW is ready with next-generation “fused” cell technology, which will use chemical LFP. The fused plot design has several advantages over previous LFP plots. It’s a larger cell that allows for higher power density and better thermal management, which translates to longer battery life and faster charging times.
Furthermore, fused cells provide greater scalability and flexibility to accommodate different vehicle sizes and power demands.
It is anticipated that BYD’s blade cell technology will also be incorporated into the Maruti YY8, which will be available at the same time as the YY8.
Due to the current political turmoil with China, BYD has no plans to manufacture cells in India, meaning that in the short term, cells will be imported from China. Mahindra has committed to investing more than Rs 10,000 crore in the electric vehicle business and has received interest from private investors such as Temasek and British International Investment.
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