Mass solid-state battery production for electric cars slated for 2030, says CATL, despite NIO's semi-solid battery success
Solid-state batteries are not like semi-solid state batteries, that seems to be the takeaway from a Q&A investor session with the world's largest battery maker CATL. The E-mobility giant had to answer a number of questions by the Shenzhen Stock Exchange before the local Securities Regulatory Commission approves a new funding spree. Representatives of the Stock Exchange probed CATL on its expected capacity gaps as well as future battery technology plans. CATL intends to raise more than US$9 billion to finance its expansion plans which in turn raised eyebrows with regulators as last quarter it was still sitting on more than US$12 billion in unused funds, hence the scrutiny. The EV battery company informed them that it will have a giant 430 GWh capacity gap by 2025 if it doesn't put new production lines into operation, so part of the proceeds from this latest funding round will go into shrinking the gap between demand and supply to the still-significant 295 GWh.
While having to ramp up production to meet demand is a good problem to have, CATL wasn't so optimistic about the future battery technologies that it will be able to pull off while busy with capacity expansion. That Holy Grail of EV power called a solid-state battery is still a pipe dream, confessed CATL, and won't be mass produced for retail electric cars before 2030 at the earliest. The first truly solid-state batteries are expected to land around 2025, CATL advises, while they won't reach 1% penetration before 2030 when the second generation of solid-state batteries is expected to be introduced. CATL, however, seems to be plucking these predictions directly from a Chinese Academy of Sciences research that claims solid-state batteries are still ten years away.
CATL may have recently started working on an "ultrahigh nickel" battery technology in order to wiggle back into the supply chain for NIO's 150 kWh pack that uses what the carmaker calls a "semi-solid" technology, and would potentially allow its ET5 and ET7 electric sedans to cover 600+ miles on a charge as soon as 2022. NIO reportedly probed CATL over its production and the battery giant said it can't be done, or didn't consider the R&D efforts commercially viable. NIO then went to a smaller, nimbler competitor that reportedly managed to pull off the development with the electric carmaker's help, so CATL may be wrong on the ultimate solid-state battery release timeline, too.