The sodium-ion battery has become a reality and made its debut in the JAC Hua Xianzi city car, manufactured by a Chinese joint venture with VW. While it was anticipated that CATL or BYD would be the first to implement this type of battery in a vehicle, JAC Motors has taken the lead by presenting the first electric car equipped with a sodium-ion battery. The Hua Xianzi is a small EV produced by JAC’s joint venture with VW.
This moment marks an important milestone as the market welcomes another type of battery, which offers an interesting alternative to the conventional lithium-ion formula, following the development of Lithium-Iron-Phosphate batteries.
While sodium-ion batteries were initially researched in the 1970s, they were abandoned due to seemingly insurmountable development hurdles, particularly their low energy density. However, acceptable energy density values have now been achieved, coupled with other benefits such as low production costs (estimated to save between 30 and 50 percent) and the use of raw materials that are more readily available and abundant than those used in lithium-ion batteries. Sodium is 300 times more abundant on our planet than lithium.
Furthermore, sodium-ion batteries can be recharged faster since they are less susceptible to overheating, and they are likely to have a longer lifespan. JAC and Volkswagen have managed to strike the right balance ahead of CATL and BYD. The Hua Xianzi is a particularly small city car with a sodium-ion battery featuring a density of 140 Wh/kg and a capacity of 25 kWh, which is enough to cover up to 250 km on a single charge. HiNa Battery Technologies, a high-tech company based in Beijing that collaborates with the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Physics, supplies the battery to the manufacturer.