BMW has promised a prototype by 2025. Toyota says it has developers working like ants to make it work. And specialist Dotstore says we shouldn’t expect them before the beginning of the next decade. And then there’s Chinese EV start-up Nio, who filed for three BEV models with assumed solid-state technology expected to hit the market soon. How soon? Within a few months.
If China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology is to be believed, Nio is living up to its promises. The Chinese EV start-up, a cult to the likes of Tesla on its home turf, announced electric models with solid-state technology by this summer. This filing with the Ministry seems to confirm the arrival of three car models using solid-state batteries from WeLion.
The Holy Grail
This would further establish China’s class-leading reputation in battery technology, outpacing the other developers in the US (QuantumScape, SolidPower) and Europe (Storedot). The pain point for commercial solid-state batteries is scaling up their production and reaching cost parity compared to lithium-ion cells. But they are widely regarded as the Holy Grail for use in electric vehicles, as charging times are reduced to mere minutes while they store six times more energy compared to current generation cells.
There’s a catch, however. The filing with the Ministry doesn’t explicitly voice that the Nio models registered for sale use solid-state batteries. But the document does reveal that the represented ‘expanded battery capabilities’ are attributed to Huzhou WeLion Technology Ltd., the company which already kickstarted production of solid-state batteries last year in November with strong ties to Nio. The timing also coincides with earlier statements from the brand.
BYD and sodium-ion
Nio is believed to install the packs as upgrades in two SUVs and one sedan. But we need to await full confirmation from the brand itself to see if the jigsaw pieces fit. Ironically, due to their favourable charging times, solid-state technology is considered a rival to the swapping system, which Nio propagates as one of the few EV makers. We need to note that WeLion also researches and develops hybrid solid-liquid electrolyte lithium-ion batteries, regarded as an intermediate step to all-solid-state packs.
In any case, China is moving the goalposts in battery technology. At Auto Shanghai, the news leaked that BYD, confirmed by battery-maker CATL, wants to introduce sodium-ion packs in its range by the end of the year. Sodium-ion technology is an alternative to lithium, the price-rallying rare-earth metal responsible for the high cost of battery packs.
Ready to join the conversation?
You must be an active subscriber to leave a comment.