Chinese EV maker NIO is developing lithium ferromanganese phosphate and 4680 batteries, and plans to mass-produce these two batteries for itself and its sub-brand ALPS, LatePost reported on August 24.
In June this year, William Li, founder of NIO, said in a telephone conference after the release of the company’s first quarter financial report that NIO has set up a battery team of over 400 people and will launch an 800V high-voltage battery pack in 2024. The above high-voltage battery is exactly the 4680 battery, which is planned to be installed into models adapting the third generation platform of NIO.
The 4680 battery technology was first proposed by Tesla and is the latest generation of cylindrical battery technology produced by the American EV maker. In the first quarter of this year, Tesla mass-produced this battery in its Texas factory, which was installed in the company’s Model Y. At present, companies such as LG Energy Solution, Panasonic and EVE Energy are also exploring 4680 batteries.
In addition to the high-performance 4680 battery, NIO is also developing a lithium ferromanganese phosphate battery with lower cost. With similar costs as lithium iron phosphate batteries, lithium ferromanganese phosphate batteries are 15%-20% higher in energy density. CATL set out its mission to produce lithium ferromanganese phosphate batteries in July this year. Sunwoda, BYD and other companies are also developing similar technologies.
People close to NIO told LatePost that the company will put into production lithium ferromanganese phosphate batteries on a small scale to supply its sub-brand ALPS which targets the 200,000-300,000 yuan ($29,145 – $43,717) price range. The battery is expected to be listed in 2024.
In April last year, NIO started to build Neo Park, an automobile industrial park in Hefei Economic Development Zone, including a vehicle factory with an annual production capacity of 1 million units and a battery factory with an annual production capacity of 100GWh. People close to the project said that the Hefei battery factory will take the lead in putting into production lithium ferromanganese phosphate batteries. In addition to the battery factory in Hefei, NIO has also built a battery trial production line in Shanghai for R&D and testing.
In addition to R&D, NIO has also set up a battery industrialization department, which consists of advanced laboratories, battery equipment technology, factory digitalization and other sub-departments. Ning Hailong, the head of the department, was the director of hardware and process engineering of Panasonic in North America, and was in charge of battery engineering in the Nevada factory built by Tesla and Panasonic. Ning joined NIO in September 2021.
The yield and consistency of battery manufacturing are also problems that NIO is facing. In June this year, the capacity of 4680 batteries in Tesla’s factory in Berlin was too low, which affected the capacity growth of its vehicles. However, the aforementioned source believe that in the short term, NIO‘s goal of producing batteries may not to supply its own vehicles, but to have a hand at the table. “When negotiating with battery makers, you must have one more card for guarantee. You may not use it, but you have to own it.”