Sodium-ion Battery EV Takes Over: JAC Auto Unveils First EV of its Kind

Highlights :

  • Hina Battery and Sehol have jointly built a test vehicle with sodium-ion batteries.
  • Vehicle is based on Sehol E10X model.
Sodium-ion Battery EV Takes Over: JAC Auto Unveils First EV of its Kind

World’s first Sodium-ion Battery Powered Electric Vehicle (EV) has finally made its debut. A Chinese EV brand JAC Auto has unveiled an EV which has diverted its source of power from traditional Lithium-ion batteries to cheaper Sodium-ion batteries, one of the trending research themes in energy storage and innovations across the industry.

The First Sodium-ion Battery EV

Hina Battery, a Beijing-based startup, and Sehol, a joint venture brand between JAC and Volkswagen Anhui, have jointly built a test vehicle with sodium-ion batteries based on the latter’s Sehol E10X model.

The test vehicle has a battery pack with a capacity of 25 kWh and an energy density of 120 Wh/kg. The model has a range of 252 km and supports fast charging of 3C to 4C. The battery pack uses cells with an energy density of 140 Wh/kg. For comparison, the regular version of the Sehol E10X has two pack capacities, 19.7 kWh and 31.4 kWh, with a range of 200 km and 302 km, respectively. The higher capacity pack has an energy density of 141 Wh/kg.

In addition, Hina Battery officially launched three sodium-ion battery cells with energy densities of 140 Wh/kg, 145 Wh/kg and 155 Wh/kg respectively. The company plans to penetrate the EV market with its disrupting Na-ion battery technology as it is extending cooperation with several EV companies and offering its products for use in two-wheelers, passenger cars, commercial vehicles, home and commercial and commercial and industrial energy storage, and large-scale energy storage.

Sodium-ion Battery 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,” a post on Sehol’s official WeChat account quoted words of a company executive.

Why Sodium-ion Batteries?

The Sodium-ion (Na-ion) battery is a fast-evolving, cheaper, portable, and efficient storage solution. The Na-ion batteries have a lower density than their lithium-ion counterparts. In addition, Na-ion batteries offer superior environmental credentials, enhanced safety (Na-ion battery is non-flammable), and better raw material costs than lithium-ion (Li-ion) – Sodium is abundant compared to lithium, with the overall cost of extraction and purification far lower. It is mostly extracted from seawater, and ashes of plants growing in sodium-rich soils.

A Sodium-ion battery could be a lot cheaper than Li-ion. As per media reports, Na-ion cells are quoted to be between 20 per cent and 40 per cent cheaper. Notably, using Sodium is also environment-friendly. However, in the short term, the cost to manufacture Na-ion is expected to be high as producers look to reach scaled production in the mid-2020s.

The technology is still in its infancy and marred with the challenge of bringing it to scale. Nevertheless, sodium ion technology is a strong alternative to existing lithium-ion technology. With rising problems of Lithium unavailability and development in the technology, Na-ion may soon be around just like Lithium-ion batteries of present times.

Rising Tide of Na-ion

Several firms across the globe are developing sodium-ion batteries, including the Chinese lithium-ion battery giant CATL. CATL unveiled its first sodium-ion battery in July 2021 and also plans to begin commercial production in 2023. The Indian heavyweight Reliance bought sodium-ion battery start-up Faradion for $135 million, which boosted the likelihood of battery commercialisation soon. Faradion was one of the early movers to champion Na-ion battery technology more than 10 years ago and had no competition back then.

In November last year, Yiche cited a conference call that said BYD’s Seagull will likely be the first to carry sodium-ion batteries, with the model’s launch expected in the second quarter of 2023.

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Junaid Shah

Junaid holds a Master of Engineering degree in Construction & Management. Being a civil engineering postgraduate and using his technical prowess, he has channeled his passion for writing in the environmental niche.