SAIC to Form JV with Startup Qingtao to Make Solid-State Batteries

SAIC Motor Corp plans to form a joint venture with Chinese solid-state battery startup QingTao Energy Development, which it backs, to make solid-state batteries together.

SAIC announced the plan last night, saying the joint venture will have a registered capital of RMB 1 billion ($137 million), with QingTao contributing RMB 510 million for a 51 percent stake and SAIC contributing RMB 490 million for a 49 percent stake.

This kind of shareholding structure is common for battery makers in their cooperation with car companies. For example, CATL, China’s largest power battery maker, usually holds a 51 percent stake in battery joint ventures with automakers.

SAIC’s joint venture with QingTao is dedicated to creating cost-effective next-generation solid-state batteries through low-cost raw materials and innovative technology, while maintaining high battery safety, the auto giant said.

QingTao is a SAIC-backed startup and the two have been working together for several years to develop solid-state batteries. SAIC has participated in investments in QingTao through its funds in 2020, 2022 and 2023.

To date, SAIC has invested a cumulative total of about RMB 2.98 billion in QingTao and indirectly holds about 15.29 percent of the battery maker, making it the number one institutional investor. On July 6, 2022, SAIC announced that it had established a joint laboratory with QingTao to develop solid-state batteries.

The two will focus on mass production of solid-state batteries with a vehicle range of more than 1,000 kilometers, 4C fast-charging technology, and the development of high-safety, long-life solid-state batteries, according to a press release at the time.

The C refers to the battery’s charge multiplier, and 4C means that the battery could theoretically be fully charged in a quarter of an hour.

On May 31, SAIC and QingTao signed a capital increase and strategic cooperation framework agreement, with the goal of seeing solid-state batteries in more than 100,000 SAIC-produced vehicles by 2025, according to the company.

In the May 31 announcement, QingTao said its joint lab with SAIC completed testing of first-generation solid-state batteries installed in prototypes.

The solid-state battery cells achieved an energy density of 368 Wh/kg with zero thermal runaway at the system level, giving the test vehicles a maximum range of 1,083 kilometers, QingTao said at the time.

Nio  unveiled a 150-kWh semi-solid-state battery when it launched its flagship sedan, the Nio ET7, at the Nio Day 2020 event on January 9, 2021, bringing the new battery into the spotlight.

Startup Beijing WeLion New Energy Technology, which is Nio’s supplier of semi-solid batteries, began delivering battery cells with an energy density of 360 Wh/kg to Nio on June 30.

Nio said at the time of the new ES6’s launch on May 24 that the company’s 150-kWh semi-solid-state battery packs would be available in July. But that’s been delayed again, and there’s no new availability date for the battery yet.

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