BYD to build first sodium-ion battery factory despite lithium price drop

EV maker BYD recently started supplying Tesla with affordable iron phosphate batteries for the base Model Y, but its investment in cheaper chemistries will soon be expanding with sodium-ion cells.

The EV battery company FinDreams that BYD spun off a couple of years back has entered a joint venture agreement for business development of its sodium-ion battery production with Huaihai Holding Group. The two will create the largest sodium-ion battery factory for small electric vehicles, using BYD’s manufacturing expertise, while Huaihai’s extensive network will provide the sales and marketing.

BYD recently released the US$15,000 Seagull – a potential Tesla Model 2 competitor in China – which was first rumored to receive a sodium-ion battery version, but was launched with LFP cells. It rather seems that the first vehicles to receive the cheapest battery chemistry in mass production will be even smaller electric cars, like the E10X, a tiny product of VW’s partnership with JAC.

Using Na-ion cells by HiNa Battery, the Sehol E10X is able to cover about 157 miles (252km) on a charge and charges in 15 minutes, while its cells offer 145 Wh/kg energy density. The world’s biggest battery maker CATL developed a sodium-ion battery with 160 Wh/kg density that it recently said will go into Cherry’s models first.

It is not clear yet what energy density BYD’s first Na-ion battery batches from the new factory will offer, but the sheer fact that they will be in mass production soon speaks volumes about the trust that the manufacturer has for the technology. The move is even more important now, when the drastic drop in the price of lithium carbonate made sodium-ion battery development and production plans much less lucrative than they were just a few months back.

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