Vietnamese electric car startup VinFast has announced a joint venture with Taiwanese battery cell manufacturer ProLogium to accelerate the commercialisation of solid-state battery-electric cars in Vietnam. The cells are expected to be used in VinFast’s electric cars as early as 2023.
According to the memorandum of understanding now signed, VinFast and ProLogium will establish a joint venture to manufacture solid-state battery packs for VinFast’s electric cars. The joint venture is to receive priority in the purchase of ProLogium’s solid-state batteries – and a licence to use MAB (Multi-Axis Bipolar+) assembly technology for solid-state battery packs, which was unveiled in early 2020. This will enable the joint venture to set up assembly in Vietnam.
For its part, ProLogium plans to produce the solid-state battery inlays (semi-finished battery cells consisting of a cathode, solid-state electrolyte and anode layer) for the joint venture at one of its Asian manufacturing centres, reaching a capacity of 1-2 GWh in 2022. This would secure mass production of VinFast’s electric vehicles scheduled for 2023/2024, ProLogium said in the statement.
ProLogium claims to be the world’s first and so far only manufacturer of solid-state batteries to have achieved mass production. This is not quite true, as the Bolloré subsidiary Blue Solutions also manufactures solid-state batteries, for example for Daimler’s eCitaro. ProLogium, on the other hand, has so far been selling its products to customers “in sectors such as 3C electronics, industry, medicine and IoT”.
When the MAB technology was presented at the beginning of 2020, it was already said that ProLogium had “concluded several strategic cooperation agreements with various car manufacturers”. With the current announcement, at least VinFast is known. 2019 also saw the announcement of a joint development initiative with Chinese electric car startup Nio. However, Nio itself has undergone extensive restructuring in the past 12 months – the current status of the solid-state battery project at Nio is not known.
VinFast recently presented its first three electric vehicle models, which will also be sold in North America and Europe. According to information from Bloomberg, VinFast is also planning a production facility in the US and plans to open 35 showrooms and service centres in California this year. The information apparently goes back to VinFast CEO Thai Thanh Hai directly – but she did not give details such as the planned production capacity or the location of the factory.
Competitor drops solid-state battery project
Just this week, it was revealed that electric car startup Fisker has halted its plans for solid-state batteries as early as 2020. “It’s kind of a technology where when you feel like you’re 90 per cent there, you’re almost there until you realise the last 10 per cent is much more difficult than the first 90,” Henrik Fisker said in an interview. “But you don’t really know that until you get up to 90 per cent.” As they approached “fully understanding” the technology, he said, they found it was much harder than expected – even given the euphoria of earlier research successes. Fisker does not expect to use the technology in cars for another seven years.
In the interview with electrive, Blue Solutions CEO Jean-Luc Monfort provided insights into the current state of the technology. Depending on the application, the company’s batteries have to be warmed up to 50 to 80 degrees – feasible in a bus in continuous use with preconditioning in the depot. This is not practical in a private car in short-haul use. “What everybody is looking for that’s to find chemistry to run solid-state batteries at ‘room temperature’, so at around 20 degrees. We are not yet there,” says Monfort.