Sodium-Ion batteries (SIB or Na+) have benefits mostly on cost since the much cheaper sodium replaces lithium, which has seen considerable price fluctuations recently. (Note that Chinese manufacturers with better access to resources in a China-dominated market have also seen the price of lithium fall, which could affect SIB’s competitiveness in future.) The downside is that sodium-ion batteries have a lower energy density. We evaluated the technology’s advantages, disadvantages, and potential in a special report last spring.
As for BYD and Huaihai, the partners are well acquainted and, in fact, concluded a strategic cooperation agreement in June to produce Na-ion batteries in Xuzhou in Jiangsu province jointly.
Now BYD’s battery subsidiary FinDreams and Huaihai Holding Group have signed a binding contract for the said plant, CNEVPost reports, citing a press release from Huaihai Holding Group. This indicates the planned annual capacity of 30 GWh but has yet to disclose the timeline. The total investment is estimated at ten billion yuan (nearly €1.4 bn or $195 mn).
According to earlier statements, Huaihai will provide marketing and application scenarios, and FinDreams will offer products and services.
Moreover, BYD already wants to use sodium-ion batteries in series-produced electric cars this year, although it will initially be a hybrid of sodium-ion and lithium-ion batteries. The move was reportedly revealed by the news site 36kr, which is usually reliably well-informed about Asian cell manufacturers.
In more concrete terms, BYD aims to introduce new part sodium batteries in its Seagull model. Said electric compact car recently went on pre-sale in China, initially with LFP batteries at prices starting at 78,800 yuan (€10,500). However, the mixture of sodium and lithium batteries is on the cards.
Similarly, battery giant CATL wants to move into SIB production from this year onwards. However, this is not about microcars and other light electric vehicles – CATL’s sodium-ion cells will power Chery’s iCar brand, expected this year. CATL confirmed Chery as the launch customer for its sodium-ion batteries without giving details.