First electric car with cheap sodium-ion battery offers 157 miles of range as it appears out of a VW partnership
Volkswagen's joint venture with JAC in China has produced the first electric car powered by the nascent sodium-ion battery technology. Provided by HiNa Battery, the mass-produced pack is installed in one of the joint venture Sehol brand's models - the E10X - which is a small urban electric car with a very affordable price and decent range that VW sells boatloads of in China.
With the sodium-ion battery, the test Sehol E10X is able to cover about 157 miles (252km) on a charge and is capable of charging at up to 4C speeds or 15 minutes. The Na-ion cells of HiNa Battery currently ship with energy density of 145 Wh/kg and are rated for 4,500 full charge-discharge cycles. Doubling of the cycles and 200 Wh/kg energy density is expected for the second Na-ion battery generation that HiNa is currently developing.
While those numbers don't sound all that impressive compared to the density of current performance lithium batteries, Na-ion cells are much more affordable to produce and with chemistry that is way less volatile. Tesla's much touted 4680 cells in the Model Y, for instance, have adjusted energy density of 244 Wh/kg, so the difference with the second sodium-ion battery generation won't be that big.
The world's biggest EV battery makers CATL and BYD are also on the cusp of mass Na-ion battery production, with BYD in particular expected to start this year. A recent rumor that BYD denied was that its Dolphin sedan will be offered with a sodium-ion pack that will lower its price by 25% compared to its Li-ion counterpart.
In any case, VW's Sehol model was chosen as a Na-ion battery test platform precisely because it is the type suitable for the first generation of sodium cells. "We judge that the application of sodium-ion batteries in the new energy vehicle market will start with the A00-class EVs, which is why we chose a model like the Sehol E10X for our installation trials," said one executive.