ARKANSAS, January 2 (Future Headlines)- In a groundbreaking development, two Chinese state-owned carmakers, backed by significant investments from Volkswagen, have launched electric vehicles (EVs) powered by sodium-ion batteries, presenting a viable alternative to the conventional lithium-ion batteries predominant in the EV market. JAC Yiwei, a new EV subsidiary of JAC Group, showcased the first sodium-ion battery-powered electric car, highlighting advancements in battery technology. This launch has the potential to reshape the landscape of EV battery technology, positioning Chinese manufacturers, particularly BYD, to take the lead in the global market.

The JAC Yiwei EV features sodium-ion batteries with a remarkable energy density of 120 Wh/kg and rapid recharge capabilities. Sodium-ion batteries are gaining attention for their cost-effectiveness, driven by the abundance of raw materials and the potential for lower production costs compared to traditional lithium-ion batteries. This move signals a significant shift in EV battery technology, challenging the established norms and paving the way for increased competitiveness among Chinese EV manufacturers.

In 2021, Volkswagen made a strategic investment of 1 billion euros in JAC Group, securing a 50% stake in the company. This collaboration positioned Volkswagen as a key player in the Chinese EV market, and it later gained full control of the EV joint venture with a 75% stake. The launch of the JAC Yiwei EV reflects the synergy between JAC Group and Volkswagen, leveraging their combined expertise to introduce innovative sodium-ion battery technology.

The newly-launched JAC Yiwei EV incorporates sodium-ion cylindrical cells from HiNa Battery, a key player in battery technology. The vehicle utilizes a honeycomb battery structure developed by JAC’s UE module tech, drawing parallels with BYD’s popular Blade battery and CATL’s CTP (cell-to-pack) technology. The sodium-ion battery in the JAC Yiwei EV boasts 25 kWh of capacity and an energy density of 120 Wh/kg, positioning it as a contender in the rapidly evolving EV battery landscape.

One of the standout features of the JAC Yiwei EV is its rapid recharge capability. The electric hatchback can recharge from 10% to 80% in just 20 minutes with 3C to 4C charging. This swift charging ability addresses a crucial aspect of EV adoption – the need for convenient and quick recharging. In comparison, Tesla’s Model 3, a prominent player in the EV market, currently operates with an energy density of about 260 Wh/kg.

Sodium-ion batteries present a notable advantage due to their reliance on abundant and cost-effective raw materials. While lithium-ion batteries have witnessed a reduction in cost over the past decade, with the current average standing at $151/kWh, further cost reductions are deemed necessary for EVs to achieve cost parity with traditional fossil fuel vehicles. Sodium-ion batteries, utilizing materials that are abundant and inexpensive, contribute to this cost-effectiveness, enhancing the appeal of Chinese EVs.

The cost factors associated with sodium-ion batteries have positioned Chinese EVs, particularly those using lithium-ion phosphate (LFP) batteries, as formidable contenders in the global market. LFP batteries, costing a third less than comparable lithium nickel manganese cobalt (NMC) batteries, contribute to the overall cost competitiveness of Chinese EVs. Analysts predict that these cost advantages could propel China’s BYD to overtake Tesla as the world’s largest EV manufacturer in 2024, as reported by InsideEVs.

  • Future Implications and Market Leadership

The launch of the JAC Yiwei EV powered by sodium-ion batteries marks a significant milestone in the evolution of EV technology. The cost-effectiveness, rapid recharge capabilities, and reliance on abundant raw materials position sodium-ion batteries as a promising alternative. As Chinese EV manufacturers, particularly BYD, leverage these advancements, the global market dynamics are likely to witness a shift in favor of cost-effective and technologically innovative solutions. The sodium-ion revolution signifies not only a transformation in battery technology but also the potential ascendance of Chinese EV manufacturers to leadership positions on the global stage.

Reporting by Alireza Sabet; Editing by Sarah White