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Solid-state battery venture that hit 368 Wh/kg energy density with 600-mile prototype heads for cheap mass production

MG4 EVs ready to be shipped out (image: SAIC)
MG4 EVs ready to be shipped out (image: SAIC)
With the goal to lower the price of solid-state EV batteries by employing cheaper raw materials and processes without sacrificing safety, a joint venture with China's biggest car maker is now moving to the production stage.

China's biggest automaker, the SAIC conglomerate, announced that it will go ahead and form a solid-state battery production venture with QingTao Energy, a startup whose R&D efforts in the field it has been fronting for a few years now.

QingTao and SAIC completed the solid-state battery tests of their first EV prototypes and achieved a very respectable 368 Wh/kg energy density, way above the average in current electric cars, albeit lower than the 500 Wh/kg potential of solid-state cells. While the companies boasted that this allowed their prototype to cover 1083 km (673 miles) on a charge, that range was probably achieved on the China Light-Duty Vehicle Test Cycle (CLTC) standard which is about a third more generous than the EPA rating in the US.

Still, 450 miles on a charge with a safer solid-state battery that showed zero thermal runway during testing is a commendable achievement, and SAIC has now greenlit the joint venture with QingTao for production with US$137 million in funding. The battery startup will keep 51% of ownership, as is the norm for JVs between automakers and battery producers, while SAIC previously said that it aims to launch an EV with a solid-state battery in 2025.

After creating a battery with a solid-state oxide electrolyte, the goal of the joint venture is to now scale it for mass production on the cheap, as solid-state batteries can otherwise be prohibitively expensive to put anywhere but in premium electric cars. Li Auto - one of the EV startups in China - recently mentioned that it considered using solid-state batteries in its electric cars a while back but a pack would've cost up to US$42,000, discouraging earlier adoption.

SAIC says in the press release that the new production venture has been formed to allow "creating cost-effective next-generation solid-state batteries through low-cost raw materials and innovative technology, while maintaining high battery safety."

There are several other such ventures or mass solid-state battery production projects in China and in Europe, paving the way for the first electric cars with solid-state cells to arrive earlier than envisioned by CATL. SAIC, for instance, aims to have 100,000 vehicles with solid-state battery installed in 2025, but it remains to be seen in what models and at what retail price.

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> Expert Reviews and News on Laptops, Smartphones and Tech Innovations > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2023 08 > Solid-state battery venture that hit 368 Wh/kg energy density with 600-mile prototype heads for cheap mass production
Daniel Zlatev, 2023-08-31 (Update: 2023-08-31)