Battery cell manufacturer SVOLT Energy Technology will supply its parent company Great Wall with cobalt-free cells starting next year. SVOLT President Yang Hongxin has also said that the choice of location for the European plant is in the “final phase”.
SVOLT President Yang Hongxin told Reuters that Great Wall wants to use the cobalt-free cells in a “high-end model”. SVOLT itself first announced the cobalt-free lithium-ion cells in 2019. In May 2020, further details were given about the battery and the planned market launch was announced for 2021. The battery cell manufacturer seems to be on track to meet this date. Yang Hongxin said that SVOLT is already testing cars with the new battery with Great Wall who will be ready to sell electric vehicles using the battery from next year.
For the cobalt-free cells, SVOLT has chosen to use a high nickel content in the cathode, much like Tesla is planning to do with the Cybertruck and Roadster 2, while other models will use cathodes with high manganese content or LFP batteries. SVOLT says that the developed batteries will be comprised of around 75 per cent nickel and 25 per cent manganese, while other metals will only be present in small fractions.
The new cells will be manufactured at the plant in Changzhou near Shanghai. Yang told Reuters that SVOLT wants to open a new research centre in Changzhou’s neighbouring city of Wuxi. SVOLT is also in the final stages of selecting a location for its planned plant in Europe, according to the company’s CEO, but he refrained from revealing which sites come into question.
In 2019, Yang said that the European plant should have an output of 20 GWh from 2022, which was later revised to 6GWh for the beginning. SVOLT is investing two billion euros in the European facility to build a 24GWh battery factory and a 40,000-ton cathode material factory and supply chain in the European market. At that time SVOLT had confirmed that it was in talks with German and French car manufacturers, while it is likely that the parent company Great Wall would also source the plant. In February this year, SVOLT confirmed an order of seven GWh from an unnamed European OEM. In August 2020, there were unconfirmed reports that the customer in question is PSA although this has not been confirmed, it is also still unclear whether this large order concerns the cobalt-free cells or conventional NCA or NCM batteries.
The battery cell manufacturer is also in talks with investors to raise two to three billion yuan, the equivalent of 250 to 380 million euros which is most likely to be used to finance the above-mentioned projects. Yang also said that the company hopes to apply for a listing on the Chinese STAR market in 2022.
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