Svolt Energy expects to complete the development of sodium-ion batteries with an energy density of 160 Wh/kg and cycle life of more than 2,000 by the fourth quarter of 2023.

(File photo from Svolt Energy's Weibo)

Chinese power battery makers are flocking to announce progress on sodium-ion batteries, with high hopes for the potential of this new, lower-cost battery type.

Svolt Energy has completed the development of its first-generation sodium-ion battery prototype with an energy density of 100 Wh/kg, the company's director, Jiang Weijun, said at a sodium-ion battery technology seminar today.

The company's second-generation sodium-ion battery product is being developed and the design is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2023 with an energy density of 135 Wh/kg, he said.

Svolt Energy expects to complete the development of sodium-ion batteries with an energy density of 160 Wh/kg and cycle life of more than 2,000 in the fourth quarter of 2023, according to Jiang.

, China's largest power battery maker, unveiled its first-generation sodium-ion battery on July 29, 2021, allowing the new battery to begin receiving more attention.

CATL said at the time that its sodium-ion batteries had reached a single-cell energy density of 160Wh/kg, the highest in the world.

The company said 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 significant 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.

Li-ion batteries have an energy density of up to more than 300Wh/kg and lead-acid batteries 30-50Wh/kg, with sodium-ion batteries in between, said Guosen Securities analyst Tang Xuxia's team in a research report in July last year.

Sodium-ion batteries are less likely to replace lithium-ion batteries, and both will meet the application needs of different market segments, but are expected to replace lead-acid batteries in the future, they said.

Sodium-ion batteries are suitable for fields with low energy density requirements but are cost-sensitive, and will mainly be used in energy storage and two-wheeled vehicles, the team said.

But it's worth noting that as lithium prices have continued to rise over the past year, lower-cost sodium-ion batteries are expected to be an important option for lower-priced models to control costs.

Farasis Energy said yesterday that it recently entered into a partnership with JMEV, a unit of Jiangling Motors Group, in which the two will start pre-production work on the adaptation of sodium-ion batteries to the latter's EV3 model.

According to JMEV's production and sales plans, models with sodium-ion batteries will go on sale in 2023, Farasis Energy said.

JMEV is currently selling the EV3, a compact, all-electric vehicle with a CLTC range of 301 km and a starting price of RMB 69,800 ($10,000).

Sodium-ion battery maker Hina Battery's GWh-class sodium-ion battery line saw its first product rollout on November 29. The company's current sodium-ion battery has an energy density of 145 Wh/kg and a cycle life of 4,500 cycles, information on its official website shows.

On November 22, local media outlet LatePost reported that plans to mass produce sodium-ion batteries in the second quarter of 2023, and that they will be featured in the Qin EV, Dolphin and new model Seagull. BYD later denied the report.

However, on November 30, Yiche reported that BYD's new all-electric minicar Seagull, which is undergoing road testing, maybe the first to carry sodium-ion batteries, with the model's launch expected in the second quarter of 2023.

In a research note released today, China Securities analyst Xu Lin said theoretical research on sodium-ion batteries has matured, material systems have been finalized and leading battery makers and new entrants are on the verge of mass production.

The analyst expects the current BOM (bill of materials) cost of sodium-ion batteries to be RMB 0.65/Wh, which could drop 18 percent to RMB 0.54 in 2023 and is expected to drop to around RMB 0.40/Wh by 2025.

Sodium-ion batteries are expected to replace lead-acid batteries and low-end lithium batteries in the future, with demand expected to be 50 GWh and 260 GWh in 2025 and 2030, respectively, the analyst said.