NIO's solid-state battery maker and Tesla's new design center get priority treatment by Beijing
The 2022 Beijing Municipal Government Work Report has listed several business projects that it will be prioritizing this year, both financially, and by creating a favorable regulatory framework. Among the most promising undertakings on its municipal territory the local government has listed Tesla's newly minted design center, as well as a WeLion battery factory. WeLion is said to be NIO's mystery solid-state battery supplier that will churn out the 150kWh units for the top NIO ET5 and ET7 performance electric sedans that allows them to cover the promised 626-mile (1000km) or longer range. Deliveries of the NIO ET7 model with 600+ miles of range on a charge are expected to start in Q4, so WeLion's new battery factory is a timely investment.
Reportedly, NIO probed its main battery supplier CATL to co-develop the solid-state battery (NIO actually calls it semi-solid), but was rebuffed with the argument that working on it is not worth the R&D investment and it won't be financially feasible to produce. Thus, NIO was allegedly forced to probe smaller, nimbler, and hungry for its business battery suppliers, and WeLion managed to develop the semi-solid pack with NIO's guidance. It remains to be seen if the new WeLion factory will be dedicated to the unique 150kWh semi-solid state battery for NIO's flagship EVs, but given the top priority designation by the Beijing municipality, it looks like this might be the case indeed.
As for Tesla's new design center in the Chinese capital, it will be tasked with concocting and developing electric vehicles for both the domestic and international markets as part of Tesla's local investment pledges when it was allowed to operate and manufacture in China. The other priority projects in the new 2022 Beijing Municipal Government Work Report include a Xiaomi car plant, as well as a Toyota fuel cell R&D center, hinting at where Beijing's investment priorities will go this year.