BYD Invests 10 billion yuan in more sustainable sodium-ion batteries

BYD has recently announced an investment of 10 billion yuan, approximately 9 billion DKK and 9,5 SEK/NOK, for the construction of a new sodium-ion battery plant in Xuzhou, located between Beijing and Shanghai.

The goal is an annual production capacity of 30 GWh, making this facility the world’s largest for the production of sodium-ion batteries.

Why Sodium-ion Batteries?

The agreement was signed between Findreams Battery, BYD’s subsidiary for battery production, and Huaihai Group. They declared that Xuzhou would become the center of battery production for micro vehicles and scooters, as these electric vehicles would benefit significantly from sodium-ion battery packs.

This isn’t the first collaboration between BYD and Huaihai Group. The two companies previously joined forces to build a “traditional” gigafactory for batteries in November 2022, with a joint investment of 10 billion yuan. The factory, spanning an area of 310,000 square meters, is nearly ready, and trial production will commence by March 2024.

Regarding BYD’s mainstream vehicles, there were rumors that the BYD Seagull would be the first vehicle with sodium-ion batteries. However, the compact car, also expected in Europe, is currently equipped with the typical LFP Blade battery that has made the company renowned.

Other Chinese companies are also making strides in sodium-ion battery technology. For instance, CATL announced in April that the iCar brand of Chery would be the first automaker to use its sodium-ion batteries, though no further updates have been provided. Hina, a joint venture between Volkswagen and JAC, also introduced a sodium-ion electric vehicle with a 25 kWh battery, but it never reached mass production.

Sodium-ion batteries are particularly interesting because they are cost-effective and have lower energy density. Consequently, they are suitable for installation in more affordable electric vehicles, such as entry-level hatchbacks, scooters, and electric tricycles. The mass production of sodium-ion batteries will alleviate pressure on precious metal extraction, as they do not require lithium or other problematic materials like cobalt.

However, there are some drawbacks, including a lower attainable voltage and slower charging speed, which is a trade-off for their slow discharge rate. Nevertheless, compared to lithium-ion batteries, sodium-ion batteries exhibit better performance at low temperatures. Good news for Scandinavian e-drivers.

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