Last night during NIO Day, the company announced a massive 150kWh battery with a difference. For a while now the industry has lusted after solid state batteries.
These are heralded as being the next big innovation in electric vehicle batteries, as they offer much higher energy density, great cycle life, lower costs and can accept a faster rate of charge (80% in 15 minutes).
When discussing their battery capacity options for the new ET7 electric sedan, Nio confirmed the traditional lithium-ion 70kWh battery would deliver 500km+ (NEDC) range, while the 100kWh battery gets a very healthy 700km+ (NEDC) range. While those numbers would be more than adequate for most buyers, NIO wasn’t done there.
A new 150kWh solid state battery, coming at the end of 2022, would deliver the magic 1,000km (NEDC) of range.
First of all, Solid State Battery tech is brand new and only recently we saw Quantumscape announced they’d had a major breakthrough with solid state, but would only see them go into production in 2024.
If NIO has solved Solid State Batteries and can deliver them up to 2 years earlier, that’s certainly going to have massive ramifications.
When we analyse the wording (translated), used to describe NIO’s Solid-state battery, it does raise some further questions.
Nio introduced the Solid State Battery by saying
The battery capacity has been improved 20% year after year. Last month, we started the delivery of 100kWh battery. As the battery technology evolves, we ought to set higher targets for ourselves.
This is the 150kWh battery.
We adopt the most advanced production ready, solid state battery technology to improve the energy density by 50% through material and process innovations.
The 150kWh battery boasts an ultrahigh energy density of 360Wh/kg.
In this statement, NIO’s CEO William Li, didn’t chose his words carefully, he didn’t say NIO is making.. but rather NIO adopts.. This definitely indicates that NIO is simply buying the battery from a supplier (likely CATL), rather than making their own.
If this is true, then the timeline of Q4 2022 for delivery of the first Solid State Battery in a car, will be heavily exposed to delays by the 3rd party.
Regarding that energy density figure of 360Wh/kg, that beats expectations of Tesla’s new 4680 cell which is estimated to have around 300Wh/kg. This figure is important as it indicates how much stored energy can be held in a given kg. This means you can pack more power in less space, but importantly doesn’t increase the vehicle’s overall weight by as much, critical for range efficiency in EVs.