BYD Constructing Sodium-Ion Battery Gigafactory (30 GWh)

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For all the hype around non-lithium-ion battery chemistries in the past decade, nothing has really been competitive with the king of batteries. Until now?

Image courtesy of Xuzhou government.

We’ve been getting intrigued by sodium-ion batteries for a while. Well, you could say going back 9 years, but for EVs and from established companies, it’s really been the past two to three years. In 2021, Steve Hanley covered CATL’s potential sodium-ion batteries. In 2022, the U.S. Department of Energy put out a bullish note on longer-lasting sodium-ion batteries. At the end of 2022, Steve wrote that BYD (the largest plugin vehicle producer in the world) might start producing sodium-ion batteries for production electric vehicles in 2023, and followed that up with a similar story and other sodium-ion battery news in April 2023. Now things are really getting real, though. BYD has begun construction on a 30 GWh sodium-ion battery factory in China.

Image courtesy of Xuzhou government.

On the morning of January 4, the 2024 city-wide major industrial project construction kick-off meeting and the BYD (Xuzhou) sodium-ion battery project kick-off event were held in the Xuzhou Economic and Technological Development Zone,” a Google translation of a news update from a Chinese company, New Energy Think Tank (NETT), stated.

BYD is investing 10 billion yuan ($1.4 billion) into the new battery factory. “After the project is completed and put into operation, it will inject new momentum into the construction of a new energy system demonstration city in Xuzhou,” NETT adds.

These batteries will reportedly be used in electric scooters and “micro vehicles,” as those are seen by BYD to be the best applications for sodium-ion batteries at the moment. “BYD’s subsidiary Findreams Battery signed an agreement with tricycle giant Huaihai Group to construct the Xuzhou sodium battery plant on November 18 in Shenzhen.”

If you’re surprised that these sodium-ion batteries won’t be used in the BYD Seagull, because that was supposed to be the first production electric car using such batteries, you’re not alone. However, the Seagull is already on the market and is using conventional lithium-iron-phosphate batteries. We’ll see if it gets sodium-ion (Na+) batteries in the future, but for now, it seems these batteries are just destined for smaller electric vehicles. Stay tuned. I think one thing we can certainly count on is more sodium-ion battery news in 2024.

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