The sodium battery base is planned to have a total investment of RMB 10 billion and an annual capacity of 30 GWh.

( Seagull. Image credit: CnEVPost)

BYD has signed a deal with local conglomerate Huaihai Holding Group to jointly build a sodium battery manufacturing base with an annual capacity of tens of GWh.

FinDreams, BYD's battery making unit, and Huaihai signed a deal on November 18 in Shenzhen, where BYD is headquartered, to build the sodium battery site in Xuzhou, Jiangsu province in eastern China, according to a press release by Huaihai yesterday.

The project, with a planned total investment of RMB 10 billion ($1.4 billion) and an annual capacity of 30 GWh, will be the world's largest supplier of sodium battery systems for microcars, according to the release.

(Image credit: Huaihai Holding Group)

It's the latest development in BYD's partnership with Huaihai, which signed a strategic cooperation agreement on June 8 to set up a joint venture to build a sodium-ion battery production base in the Xuzhou Economic and Technological Development Zone.

Huaihai will provide its resources including marketing and application scenarios, and FinDreams will provide products and services, the company's previous press release said.

Sodium-ion battery technology is maturing and has broad market prospects, FinDreams will accelerate the construction of the sodium battery project in Xuzhou, said He Long, CEO of the BYD battery unit, according to Huaihai's press release yesterday.

Established in 1976, Huaihai's business covers small vehicles, electric vehicles, parts and components, and financial services. It didn't mention a planned timetable for the construction of the sodium battery project.

Last November, there were several rumors that BYD's sodium-ion battery would be mass-produced in 2023 and that the first model to be powered by the battery would be the Seagull.

None of those rumors have been confirmed, however, and BYD has so far not announced that it has begun to carry sodium batteries in its models.

It's worth noting that lithium carbonate prices have fallen sharply over the past year and could be potentially holding back the development of sodium-ion batteries.

The cost advantage of sodium-ion batteries is seen to have diminished significantly with the prolonged decline in the price of lithium carbonate, a key raw material for lithium-ion batteries.

Battery-grade lithium carbonate was quoted at RMB 149,000 per ton in China today, down more than 70 percent from RMB 517,500 per ton at the start of the year, Mysteel data showed.

The cost advantage of sodium batteries is no longer prominent as the price of battery-grade lithium carbonate falls back to around RMB 300,000 a ton, the Shanghai Securities News said in a May 31 report.

($1 = RMB 7.2119)

Global EV battery market share in Jan-Sept: CATL 36.8%, BYD 15.8%

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