Sodium-ion batteries expected in EVs with ranges of up to 500 km, CATL executive says

A CATL executive said the sodium-ion batteries are expected to be carried in electric vehicles (EVs), in what appears to be the first public mention of the prospect of using the new battery in passenger cars by someone at the power cell giant.

As for applications in passenger cars, sodium-ion batteries generally meet the needs of models with a range of up to 400 kilometers, said Huang Qisen, deputy head of CATL’s research center, at a forum on sodium-ion batteries held on November 29.

Through its pioneering AB battery system integration technology, CATL has achieved a mix of sodium ion and lithium ion, allowing them to complement each other and thus increase the energy density of the battery system, Huang said.

This approach allows sodium-ion batteries to be able to support EV models with a range of up to 500 kilometers, he said, adding that models with that range account for 65 percent of the market share, meaning that the use of sodium-ion batteries is promising.

CATL unveiled its first-generation sodium-ion battery on July 29, 2021, saying a single cell’s single energy density had reached 160Wh/kg, the highest level in the world.

The company said at the time that the energy density of the first-generation sodium-ion battery was slightly lower than that of the current lithium iron phosphate (LFP) battery. However, it has obvious advantages in low-temperature performance and fast charging, especially in high-power application scenarios in alpine regions.

CATL’s next-generation sodium-ion battery energy density will exceed 200Wh/kg, it said last year, adding that the company has already started the industrialization layout of sodium-ion batteries and plans to form a basic industrial chain in 2023.

CATL did not mention the possible areas of use of sodium-ion batteries in its brief launch at the time, although industry watchers and analysts generally believe that the batteries, with their low energy density, will probably be used mainly in energy storage and two-wheeled vehicles.

Sodium-ion batteries are less likely to replace lithium-ion batteries, and the two will meet the application needs of different market segments but are expected to replace lead-acid batteries in the future, Guosen Securities said in a research note at the end of July last year.

Sodium-ion batteries are suitable for fields that do not require high energy density but are cost-sensitive, and will mainly be used in energy storage and in two-wheeled vehicles, the team said.

It can also be used in areas including low and medium-range EVs, data centers, backup power, base station power systems, energy storage, construction machinery, industrial vehicles, and smart grid, to alleviate the problem of the limited development of energy storage batteries triggered by the shortage of lithium resources, the report said.

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