CATL and BYD to use sodium-ion batteries in EVs this year

Both CATL and BYD intend to use sodium-ion batteries in series-produced EVs before the end of this year. However, this will initially be a hybrid of sodium-ion and lithium-ion batteries.

Citing insiders, the portal 36kr says CATL plans to introduce the new batteries in the first model of the Chery’s new energy vehicle (NEV) brand iCar, which will launch in the fourth quarter of this year. The technology could later also be used in other Chery models. CATL recently confirmed that Chery would be its launch customer for its sodium-ion batteries without giving further details.

Chery introduced the iCar brand in the run-up to the Auto Shanghai with two concept cars. The iCar GT is an electric sports car, while the iCar 03 is a 4.2-metre-long angular compact SUV. The vehicle exhibited in Shanghai is still a prototype with darkened windows, so there are no details about the interior design yet. Since sodium-ion batteries are much cheaper but have a lower energy density, it is more likely that the iCar 03 will be the first model to come with a mixed battery pack of Li-ion and Na-ion cells, and not the sports car.

According to the Chinese media, BYD also plans to introduce its new batteries. These will also initially be a mixture of sodium and lithium batteries and could hit the road as part of the BYD Seagull in the second half of this year. BYD’s small EV has just gone on pre-sale in China – initially with LFP batteries – starting at 78,800 yuan (around €10,500 euros or $11,439).

There were rumours in China that BYD was interested in sodium-ion batteries as early as November 2022. Even then, the Qin EV, the Dolphin compact car and the Seagull were already mentioned. Specifically, it was reported that BYD’s battery division FinDreams had already developed such cells to the point of sample validation. BYD denied the reports at the time.

Even now, it is only unconfirmed insider information. Given the advanced development, limited use of sodium-ion cells in mixed battery packs seems possible. At least initially. However, since lithium prices recently fell sharply again, the acute interest of Chinese battery manufacturers could temporarily cool down. However, their use will not be questioned in the long term – if only to reduce dependence on lithium resources.

36kr.com (in Chinese), cnevpost.com, carscoops.com

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