Microvast is not a major battery manufacturer, but it apparently will make the batteries that go into electric postal delivery trucks for the USPS. This week, the company, based in Houston, Texas, announced two new NMC battery cells — 48 Ah and 53.5 Ah NMC pouch cells that have been specifically designed to power commercial and special purpose vehicles.
Both new pouch cells are available in the same dimensions and can be integrated into Microvast’s new fourth generation battery packs, according to Electric. The MpCO-48Ah has an energy density of 205 Wh/kg and can be charged to 80% in 16 minutes. Microvast says that cell has a service life of over 7,000 cycles at 25 degrees.
The HpCO-53.5Ah has an energy density of 235 Wh/kg. This cell is rated at over 5,000 cycles at 25 degrees, and the charging time is significantly higher at 48 minutes. It can only be charged at 1C, while 3C is possible with the MpCO-48Ah. In October, 2020, Microvast introduced the MpCO-17.5Ah battery cell, which has a service life of 8,000 cycles but a lower energy density of 186 Wh/kg.
“The new cells enable our customers to easily optimize vehicle design in terms of energy density and cycle life, delivering improved overall performance and reducing total cost of ownership while preserving fast charging capabilities,” says Yang Wu, president and CEO of Microvast. “We expect these next generation battery cells to become pivotal revenue drivers for our business going forward.”
The new cells will be installed in Microvast’s fourth generation battery pack, which has similar dimensions to its third generation packs but delivers up to 20% more energy and power. According to Microvast, the new packs have improved safety features at the module and pack level, which should lead to improved thermal management. The new cells and battery packs are available for sample orders now. Microvast expects to start mass production in 2023.
Microvast & Oshkosh
The announcement has prompted a discussion on the reddit EV forum about whether any batteries supplied to Oshkosh for USPS vehicles might have a service life of 1 million miles or more. At the present time, the postal service is expecting the batteries in those vehicles will need replacing after 10 years of service. Given that most of those vehicles travel less than 12,000 miles a year, a 10-year service life seems unrealistically low if in fact the Microvast battery cells are capable of 7000 charging cycles. If so, the true cost of ownership calculations for the postal service vehicles are nowhere near accurate, and significantly overstate the costs.
Microvast manufactures its own cells in China through its subsidiary Microvast Power Systems Co. Ltd. Production is scheduled to start in Clarksville, Tennessee — near where Oshkosh plans to build the delivery vehicles for the USPS — this summer. Microvast also has a battery pack assembly factory in Ludwigsfelde, Germany.
From the information available online, it is difficult to tell whether all Microvast battery cells are manufactured in China and assembled into battery packs elsewhere. If so, that could ignite more controversy about those battery-electric trucks Oshkosh wants to build for USPS. The Biden administration is very clear it wants electric vehicles for government agencies to be manufactured in America using unionized workers and parts manufactured in the US. Oshkosh intends to freeze the UAW out of its new assembly plant. Using Chinese made battery cells would constitute two strikes against the Oshkosh deal.
Will the postal service ever get new vehicles? “We’ll see,” said the Zen master.
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