(Bloomberg) — A year and a half ago, China’s CATL put on a flashy event to make an announcement significant enough that Zeng Yuqun, the founder and chairman of the world’s biggest battery maker, served as emcee.
Zeng, who had just passed up Alibaba’s Jack Ma in the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, revealed that CATL was working on battery packs that would use lithium-ion and sodium-ion cells. While sodium is more abundant and offers potential safety benefits over lithium, the latter is dominant in EV batteries. Lithium-ion chemistries offer superior energy density, enabling drivers to travel further between charges.
While CATL laid out steps it was taking toward commercialization, the massive supplier to automakers including Tesla, Geely and BMW has been beaten to the punch — at least to the prototype stage. Last month, Chinese automaker JAC unveiled a test version of its Sehol E10X electric car that was packing sodium-ion cells.
Supplying the cells was HiNa Battery Technologies, a small and relatively new player to China’s battery scene, having been founded in 2017 following years of work at a scientific research institute.
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