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Application of Lithium Ion Battery for Vehicle Electrification
Qiangfeng Xiao1, Bing Li2, Fang Dai1, Li Yang1, and Mei Cai1
1Gereral Motors Research and Development Center, 30500 Mound Road, Warren, MI 48090, USA;
2Clean Energy Automotive Engineering Center, Tongji University, Shanghai 201804, PR China.
2.2 EV History...................................................................................................................................
2.3 EV Classification and General Battery Requirements.................................................................
2.3.3 Abuse Tolerance...........................................................................................................
2.4 Battery Chemistry........................................................................................................................
2.5 From Cells to Modules to Battery Packs.....................................................................................
2.6 Current Battery Technology........................................................................................................
2.7 Prospectus on the Future of EV Battery......................................................................................
In the 1980s Professor John B. Goodenough at the University of Texas-Austin developed
crucial cathode materials for the rechargeable lithium-ion battery . However, the first
commercial lithium-ion battery was released by Sony and Asahi Kasei in 1991 . In the most
common configuration, a lithium ion battery is formed by a graphite anode, a lithium metal oxide
(e.g.LiCoO2) cathode and a separator soaked with a liquid solution of a lithium salt. As compared
with conventional Lead acid and Ni-MH batteries, lithium ion batteries are lighter, have higher
operational voltage, and higher energy density ranging from 100 to 265 Wh/kg. Such features
make them the power sources of choice for portable electronic devices such as cell phones, laptop
computers, digital cameras/video cameras, and portable audio/game players in the past decades.
In 2011, notebook and cellphones dominated battery markets and accounted for $9.7 billion in
revenue . Recently, clean energy and sustainable development have promoted the application
of lithium ion batteries in stationary electrical energy storage to improve grid reliability and
utilization, and in transportation electrification to reduce green-house gas emission and decrease
dependence on oil. Boston Consulting Group has reported that, by 2020, the global market for
advanced batteries for electric vehicles (EV) is expected to reach US $25 billion , which is more
than the double size of today’s entire lithium-ion battery market for consumer electronics.
In this chapter, the focus will be on the application of lithium-ion battery in EV in view of
future market perspective and great impact on energy consumption and environmental benefit. The
value chain of EV batteries consists of seven steps: raw material and component production, cell
production, module production, assembly of modules into the battery pack including battery
management system and thermal management system, integration of the pack into the vehicle,
operation during the life of vehicle, and reuse and recycling . In the following sections, the
topics will be more related to the first four battery pack manufacture steps and include the EV
history, EV battery requirements, current battery technology, and prospectus.
2.2 EV History
The history of the EVs could be tracked back as early as internal combustion engine (ICE)
vehicles. In the late 1800s, the invention of rechargeable lead-acid batteries trigged the birth of the
first electric vehicle . The Bersey Cab used by the London Electric Cab Company could drive
50 miles per charge. The early years of 1900s witnessed the golden period of EVs whose number
was almost double that of ICE vehicles. However, Henry Ford assembly-line brought the
lightweight and low price ICE vehicles onto market which quickly supplanted EVs because the
batteries at that time had the low energy density, long charging time and poor durability. From
1930–1960 battery powered EVs went into hibernating period.
The energy crisis in 1970s resurged the interest in the development of high density, low
cost batteries for EVs to reduce the oil dependence. In this period, the best available lead acid EV
technology yielded a range of less than 50 miles. For example, the Vanguard-Sebring CitiCar,
introduced to the EV market in 1974, could drive a range of approximately 40 miles. General
Motors (GM) undertook a program to develop Zn/NiOOH batteries for electric automobiles and
pickup trucks. The Electrovette had an urban range of 60 miles, and could accelerate like gasoline-
In 1990s California established the zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) mandate, requiring large
manufacturers to sell a certain share of all vehicles as ZEVs. GM firstly mass produced EV1
followed by S-10 electric pick-up, Chrysler EPIC minivan, Ford Ranger pick-up, Honda EV Plus,
Nissan Alta EV and Toyota RAV4 . Recently, the idea of the vehicle electrification has spread
worldwide. Various governments are funding research to develop advanced battery technology
and providing financial incentives for consumer purchases. By 2014, GM, Ford, Audi, Fiat, BMW,
Volkswagen, Honda, Toyota, Mitsubishi, BYD and others have launched various EVs into the
2.3 EV Classification and General Battery Requirements
The rechargeable battery is essential to the operation of an electric vehicle as the ICE to
the operation of a traditional vehicle. Power density and energy density are the two fundamental
characteristics. The former refers to the amount of energy that can be delivered in a given period
of time, affecting how fast a vehicle accelerates whilst the latter means the capacity to store energy,
affecting the range a vehicle can travel. As compared with lead acid and nickel hydride batteries,
lithium ion batteries appear as the most promising power source in view of power and energy
density. As shown in Figure 2.1, a 300 kg lithium-ion battery (LIB) with energy density of 120
Wh/kg can drive 250 km range while a lead acid or Ni-MH battery with the same weight can only
offer 63 km or 130 km, respectively . Besides the mentioned power and energy density, the
battery performance is characterized by a number of other properties such as cell voltage, C-rate,
state of charge, depth of discharge, charge efficiency, self-discharge rate, operation temperature
range, cycle life, and other characteristics. Battery performance requirement is determined by the
specific vehicle applications. Depending on the propulsion power and energy system, electric
vehicles (EV) can be generally categorized as hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), plug-in hybrid
electric vehicles (PHEVs), and pure battery electric vehicles (BEVs) [10, 11]. They are introduced
in the following sections along with their specific battery requirement.
HEV combines a conventional ICE propulsion system with an electric propulsion system.
As shown in Figure 2.2, there are two basic drivetrain architectures. In the parallel hybrid, the ICE
and the electric motor are both connected to the mechanical transmission and can simultaneously
power the vehicle. In the series hybrid, the ICE charges the batteries or powers the motor directly
via a generator and only an electrical motor powers the vehicle . Depending on the degree of
hybridization, HEV can be further classified from micro to full HEV. Battery in an HEV are
required to have small energy (1-2 kWh) but high power with high P/E values ranging from 15 to
20, as shown in Figure 2.3 . In addition, the SOC must be maintained at an intermediate level
in order to frequently deliver peak power to the drivetrain and accept power from regenerative
braking. Batteries for HEV are designed for a 300,000-shallow cycle lifetime.
PHEVs refer to hybrid vehicles with large-capacity batteries that can be charged from the
electric grid. PHEV can be viewed as an intermediate technology between HEVs and BEVs. To
reap the advantage of PHEVs, two basic modes are combined over the travelled distance, as shown
in Figure 2.4 . In the charge depleting operating mode (CD), the vehicle is powered purely or
mostly by battery which discharges from a fully charged state to a minimum level. In this mode,
the operation can be all-electric (AE) or blended with battery and engine and the vehicle behave
as BEV. Once the battery is depleted, the vehicle switches to charge sustaining mode (CS). The
vehicle is primary powered by ICE. As is the case in HEVs, the battery work as an assisting power
and can be charged by ICE and regenerative braking. Due to the dual operation modes, the batteries
are required to have both energy and power performance, resulting in a medium P/E range of 3-
15. Generally, the battery have an energy ranging from 5 to 15 kWh (DOE, 2007), depending on
the distance that the vehicle can drive in the CD mode and can achieve up to about 5000 cycles
over the life of the battery.
BEVs use an electric motor powered by batteries as the sole propulsion system to power the
vehicle. Batteries for EVs BEV requires a much larger energy battery because of longer driving
ranges, resulting in the lowest P/E ratio. The battery generally operates at around 80% DOD and
requires 1,000-cycle durability. The battery size of EVs is larger than that for PHEVs or HEVs.
For example, a battery pack with energy >40 kWh is needed to drive a 300-mile range. Besides
the general power and energy ranges required from the battery by HEV, PHEV and BEV, other
factors such as cost, life, and abuse tolerance also play very important roles in the development of
A rough estimate of the battery cost at pack level is 75-85% for the cells and 15-25% for
the battery assembly, thermal and electrical management system. At the cell level, 80-90% is the
material cost and 10-20% labor cost. If the cost is further broken down, the cathode-active material
accounts for ∼49%, electrolyte for∼23%, and anode-active material for ∼11% . Although data
are confidential, batteries cost reasonably from $375-$750 per kWh, meaning a 40 kWh battery
can cost as much as $30,000. As the LIB are suitable power sources for both BEV (energy) and
HEV (power), they have a potential cost evolution advantage in the future due to the accumulative
The battery is the most critical component of an electric vehicle. During the average
lifetime of the car, the battery should be able to provide energy to the vehicle powertrain
continuously. Inside the battery, there are many complex chemical reactions while being charged
or discharged, or even being on the rest. Therefore, both cycle life and calendar life should be
considered to assess the battery lifespan . The former refers to the number of discharge–charge
cycles the battery can handle at a specific DOD (normally 80%) before it reaches its end of life
, that is, loses 20% of energy content according to the automotive industry. In reality, cycle
life depends on the operation conditions, including the charging and discharging rates, DOD, and
other conditions such as temperature. Calendar life is defined as the expected life span of the
battery under storage or periodic cycling conditions. It can be strongly related to the temperature
and SOC during storage. Generally, the higher temperature and SOC, the shorter the calendar life
due to the accelerated side reactions.
2.3.3 Abuse Tolerance
Like the fuel tank of an IEC vehicle, the battery systems represent certain abusive
environment because of the potential failures . There are many flammable components such
as electrolyte, separator and electrodes. The total generated heat from both cathode and anode is
an indicator for abuse tolerance evaluation. In a charged state, the cathode and anode can be viewed
as oxidizing and reducing agents respectively, which might chemically react together or react with
electrolyte under certain circumstances (e.g., such as internal, external short circuits or battery
overcharge). Such reactions generate hot spots and trigger thermal runaway in the worst scenario.
The abuse tolerance concern determines the choice of materials and battery design.
In brief, battery performance requirements depend on the type of EVs, which is HEVs,
PHEVs or BEVs. Energy and power are the two primary factors and determine the car autonomy.
Derived from the energy density and specific energy, the battery volume and mass can be obtained.
Allowing for the limited space in the car, volume is the king consideration for the pack design.
Battery cost and life represent the economic factor and play an important role in the mass product.
As a transportation tool, abuse tolerance is surely of big concern to the implementation of EVs. To
become competitive with the current vehicle technology, DOE assess all necessary battery
attributes and set the battery performance goals at the system level, as shown in Table 2.1.
Current battery systems fall short of the DOE goals principally in life and system price. Their
status quo will be introduces in the following sections.
2.4 Battery Chemistry
There are four principal cathode materials for automotive applications, namely lithium
nickel cobalt aluminum (NCA), lithium manganese spinel (LMO), lithium nickel manganese
cobalt (NMC), and lithium iron phosphate (LFP). As for the anode, graphite based carbons are the
dominant active materials. When high power is needed, lithium titanate (LTO) is used as anode
materials. Based on the combination of the cathode and anode materials, various lithium ion
batteries can be fabricated. Each material has distinct advantages and disadvantages in terms of
specific energy, specific power, abuse tolerance, cost, life span, and performance.
The layered lithium transition metal oxides represent the most successful family of positive
electrode materials since the commercialization of LIB. LiCoO2 was the first commercialized
compound and dominates the consumer electronics, but concerns about the high cost and abuse
tolerance issues have led to the development of alternative materials that can offer lower cost,
longer life, and improved abuse tolerance. Substituted nickel oxides, such as LiNi 1-y-zCoyAlzO2,
or NCA, have been developed [20-22]. The partial substitution of Ni with Co is effective at
reducing the Ni migration into the Li layer. Co also helps to reduce oxygen loss at high SOC, and
improve the abuse tolerance. The presence of inert Al element prevents the complete removal of
all the lithium and minimizes the structural collapse. On charging, Ni is oxidized firstly to Ni4+
then the Co to Co4+. The high specific capacity (180-200 mAh/g) and good power capability make
this material attractive for vehicular applications. Another well-known compound is LiNi 1-y-
zMnyCozO2 (NMC), which integrate the unary or binary parenting compound advantages [23-25].
Among the myriad stoichiometry, the symmetric compound Li[Ni1/3Co1/3Mn1/3]O2 is the best
known. Ni, Co, and Mn adopt the oxidation states of +2, +3, and +4, respectively. During the
delithiation of the first two-thirds of lithium, Ni2+is oxidized to Ni4+, followed by Co3+ to Co4+
during the extraction of the last one-third lithium at the high potential. Mn is the inactive element
and maintain the oxidation state during the electrochemical process. Li [Ni1/3Co1/3Mn1/3] O2 exhibit
high capacity( 160-170 mAh/g), small volume change (1-2%) and good rate performance. As
compared with LiCoO2 and NCA, this material shows improved abuse tolerance properties at a
The spinel cathode LiMn2O4 (LMO) was originally proposed by Thackeray et al., has
been extensively developed by Bellcore labs [26-28]. This materials exhibits a cubic structure
(space group Fd-3m), where there are Li ion tunnels intersecting three-dimensionally through the
manganese oxide skeleton. In theory, LMO can be either charged or discharged initially and
cycled over the range of 0<x<2 in LixMn2O4. For 0<x<1, the crystal structure is maintained as the
cubic phase with a 4V plateau. For 1<x<2, a 3V plateau occurs and the structure transfers into a
tetragonal phase due to the cooperative Jahn-Teller effect of Mn3+ when it exceeds 50%
occupancy. For practical applications, the discharge is limited to the 4V plateau with the capacity
of 100-120 mAh/g. As compared to other cathode materials, LMO is safe, abundant,
environmentally benign, low cost, and has high power capability. Such properties make LMO an
attractive cathode materials for large scale LIB applications. The shortcomings of LMO include
the low capacity and Mn dissolution. Strategies, including doping, surface coating and utilization
of non-acidic electrolyte (e.g., LiBOB) have been used to mitigate the Mn dissolution and capacity
LiFePO4 has attracted great interest due to the unique properties which include: (i)
reasonably high capacity (170mAh/g); (ii) a flat 3.5V vs. Li voltage plateau by a two-phase
electrochemical process; (iii) low reactivity with the electrolyte; (iv) high intrinsic abuse tolerance
due to the strength of the P–O covalent bond; (v) low cost due to the abundant resources [29-31].
This material was firstly reported by Goodenough and coworkers, known as phosphor-olivine and
adopts the orthorhombic structure (space group Pnma). The one-dimensional Li+ diffusion channel
of the olivine limits the mobility of Li ions. The resulting low ion diffusion rate and the intrinsic
low conductivity have hurdled its commercialization. Until early 2000s, these hurdles had been
lifted by A123 Systems, Inc. by making the material in a nanoparticulate form, coating the surface
with a carbon layer, and doping the material with various elements. As for the disadvantages of
LFP, the low tap density of nanostructured LFP leads to a lower energy density, compared with
other cathode materials.
Graphite is the most common anode used in lithium ion battery. It can react with lithium to
form LiC6 corresponding to a theoretical specific capacity of 372 mAh/g and can pair with most
of the current cathode materials [32-34]. The potential of graphitic anodes is about 100 mV vs
lithium potential. During the lithiation-delithiation, the volume expansion/contraction is about 9%
which benefits the cyclability of graphite as the anode material. In addition, it is abundant and low
cost. All the above properties make graphite the dominant anode. However, to solve the SEI
formation and lithium plating issues, it is necessary to develop alternative anodes that operate at
higher voltage with respect to lithium potential. For example, lithium titanate (LTO) is one of the
attractive candidates due to its unique properties, including (i) a flat 1.5V vs. Li voltage plateau by
a two-phase electrochemical process; (ii) zero strain during cycling, which leads to high cycling
stability; (iii) no SEI formation; and (iv) high rate and very low temperature charge/discharge
capability[ 35-37]. As for the disadvantages, the low capacity and high operation voltage result in
low energy density. Finally, the characteristics of the cathodes and anodes are summarized and
listed in the Table 2.2.
2.5 From Cells to Modules to Battery Packs
As the small portable lithium ion cells, the EV cells are also built from three primary layers
namely, cathode, separator and anode. Depending on their packing structure, the cells can be
classified into cylindrical, prismatic and pouch configuration [38, 39]. In the case of cylindrical or
prismatic cells, the three primary layers are rolled and sealed in metal cans with electrolyte. In the
pouch cell case, these layers are enclosed in the laminate pouch with their edge heat-sealed. Each
configuration have its advantages and disadvantages. Cylindrical cells are economical to
manufacture and have good mechanical stability and high energy density, but have low packing
efficiency. As compared to the cylindrical cells, prismatic cells have higher packing efficiency,
slightly lower energy density and are more expensive to manufacture. Pouch cells are light and
cost-effective to manufacture and provide design freedom on dimensions. The pouch cells have
become the first choice in the cell selection for high capacity PHEV or EV packs. It is worthy to
mention that for cylindrical and prismatic cells the maximum cell temperature is in the core of the
cell. In the case of pouch cells the highest temperature is near the cell terminal tabs, which makes
easier to dissipate heat. As for the disadvantages, pouch cells have swelling issue during cycling.
In the Table 2.3, the key characteristics of cells currently used in the EV were shown . At the
cell level, the specific energy and energy density of current lithium ion batteries usually range from
90 to 160 Wh/kg and 200 to 320 Wh/L respectively. The Toshiba cells have the lowest specific
energy and energy density due to the low capacity and high voltage plateau of LTO anode. Using
18650 cylindrical design, Panasonic cells deliver the highest specific energy (248 Wh/kg) and
energy density (630 Wh/L). Such difference arises from the design comprises made among the
abuse tolerance, reliability, durability, P/E ratio, and cost. For EV application, the cells must be
connected in series and parallel to upgrade into modules and further into battery packs which can
meet the specific energy and power requirement. Typically, the packs include four main
components: (1) lithium ion battery cells, (2) mechanical structure and/or modules, (3) battery
management system, and (4) thermal management system. Generally, the specific energy of
battery pack is only 60-65% of the cell’s specific energy.
2.6 Current Battery Technology
As lithium ion batteries can fulfil the HEV battery performance requirements, we will focus
on the applications of current lithium ion batteries in PHEV and BEV with GM Chevrolet Volt,
Toyota Prius, and Nissan Leaf as examples, respectively.
The GM Chevrolet Volt was launched in 2010 and has become the bestselling PHEV in the
world. As of June 2014, the global sales of Volt and its variant Ampera models have surpassed
77,000 units . The 2011 Chevrolet Volt has a combination of a 1.4-l ICE and a 16 kWh (10.4
kWh usable) lithium-ion battery pack [41, 42]. The electric motor has a peak output of 111 kW
(149 hp) delivering 273 lb·ft (370 N·m) of torque . The battery system have 288 lithium ion
pouch cells, each with a 15 Ah capacity and a 3.8 V nominal voltage. Three Li-ion cells are
connected in parallel to create cell groups of 45 Ah. A total of 96 cell groups are connected in
series with a nominal system voltage is of 360 V . The cell groups are integrated in nine
modules assembled to three sections to form a “T”-shaped design. The pouch cells were developed
and are manufactured by LG Chem with NMC based materials as cathode and graphite as anode.
The battery pack can be charged by either the engine or an outlet (14 hours at 120 V and about 4
hours at 240V) . The Volt operates as a pure battery electric vehicle with a range of 38 miles
until the battery capacity drops to a predetermined threshold from full charge. From there its
internal combustion engine powers an electric generator to extend the vehicle's range as far as 379
The Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid was unveiled at the September 2011 and is the second most
sold PHEV. As of June 2014, about 60,000 Prius PHVs have been sold worldwide . The hybrid
powertrain system consists of a gasoline engine and a pair of electric motors. The 1.8-liter DOHC
16-valve VVT-i gasoline engine can deliver a power of 73 kW (98hp) @ 5200 rpm, and a torque
of 105 lb·ft (142 N·m) @ 4000 rpm. One motor has power of 60 kW (80 hp) and works to power
the compact, lightweight transaxle, and the other one has power of 42 kW (56 hp) and works as
the electric power source for battery regeneration and as a starter for the gasoline engine. The
battery pack is 4.4 kWh lithium-ion battery co-developed with Panasonic [44, 45]. The pack is
installed in the rear of the vehicle with a nominal voltage of 209 V and weight of 80 kg. The
lithium-ion battery pack can be charged in 180 minutes at 120 volts or in 90 minutes at 240 volts.
During the charge depleting stage, the vehicle can drive a range of 11 mi (18 km) in a blended
operation mode. Afterward the drive mode switches to charge sustaining mode (CS) and operates
similarly as a standard Prius. A total range of 540 miles (870 km) can be reached after both fully
charged battery and gasoline tank are depleted .
Nissan Leaf is pure battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and was released in the United States
and Japan in December 2010. By mid-January 2014, global sales had reached up to 100,000 units
which accounted for a 45% market share of worldwide pure electric vehicles . The drivetrain
system is front-mounted synchronous electric motor which can provide a power of 80 kW (110
hp) and a torque of 280 N·m (210 ft·lb) and propel the front axle. The battery pack provided by
Automotive Energy Supply Corporation (AESC) is 24 kWh lithium ion battery, has nominal
voltage of 345V and weights 294 kg. The pack contains 48 module and each module has 4
laminated prismatic cells with LMO-NCA as cathode and graphite anode [40, 46, 47]. The specific
energy of the cells is 155 Wh/kg. As the heaviest part, the pack is positioned below the seats and
rear foot space to maintain the center of gravity as low as possible. Depending on driving style,
load, traffic conditions, weather (i.e. wind, atmospheric density), and accessory use, the driving
range can vary from 62 to 138 miles .
2.7 Prospectus on the Future of EV Battery
The current lithium ion batteries based on the intercalation chemistry are approaching the
energy density limits through two decades of optimization. They have enjoyed the great
commercial success in the portable electronic devices and are being employed for vehicle
electrification. In the coming years, further optimization of existing chemistries, and cell and pack
designs will still dominate the EV battery development which will provide incremental energy
density improvement. A big leap forward will be the realization of Si based anode materials as
well as high voltage and capacity cathode materials for the next generation battery. To extend the
driving range, improving the reliability, and reducing cost, new chemistry beyond lithium ion
battery (such as conversion reaction) will be required to make batteries with higher energy density
(Figure 2.5) . As an example, Li-S battery is one of the most promising candidates for the
development of next generation battery in view of its high capacity, low cost and environmental
benign. Although Li-S battery plague issues such as the polysulfide shuttling, the low conductivity
of S and Li2S, great progress has been made in recent years due to the advancement of
nanotechnology [49-51]. Based on the current technology, a specific energy of 350 Wh/kg, which
double that of lithium ion battery, has been demonstrated in large pouch cells. The authors believe
that further improvement can be achieved by optimizing the designs of electrodes/cells and
utilizing newly developed novel materials. If the development of Li/S cells is successful, a low
cost all-electric vehicle with a range in excess of 300 miles per charge could be anticipated. As for
the other high energy batteries, such as lithium-air battery, there are still tremendous challenges to
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Car autonomy as a function of battery weight and specific energy. Car consumption: 135 Wh/(t
km), car weight:800 kg .
Basic HEV drivetrain architecture-series vs parallel design.
Battery performance requirement by vehicle application.
Illustration of discharge cycle for HEVs, PHEVs and BEVs.
Ragone plot of current energy system and future target for vehicle propulsion.
DOE goals for system-level performance for HEV, PHEV and EV. The min and max categories
refer to designs that meet the basic HRV or PHEV application but have a minimum or maximum
amount of battery.
Specific power, Wkg-1
Specific energy, Wh kg-1
Power density, WL-1
Energy density, WhL-1
Pack energy, kWh
Pack weight, kg
Pack volume, L
System price, $
Characteristics of Current Electrode Materials employed in EV.
High capacity and voltage,
excellent rate performance
Abuse tolerance, cost and resource
limitations of Ni and Co
High capacity and voltage,
moderate abuse tolerance
Cost and resource limitations of
Ni and Co
moderate abuse tolerance,
excellent rate performance Low
cost and abundance of Mn
Poor cycle life due to Mn
dissolution, low capacity
Excellent abuse tolerance,
cycling, and rate capability, low
cost and abundance of Fe
Low voltage, capacity, and energy
Long cycle life, abundant, low
Relatively low energy density;
plating and Solid Electrolyte
Zero strain, good cycling, high
High voltage, low capacity and
The state of the art Lithium ion cell employed in EV.
*Toshiba Super Charge ion Battery (SCiB) technology was introduced into i-MiEV by Mitsubishi