Sunday, June 16, 2024

Chinese carmaker Chery banks on battery technology to rev up transition to EVs

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Chery Automobile, a Chinese state-owned carmaker that ships half of its total output overseas, is keen on adopting solid-state batteries to differentiate its products and accelerate its transition from petrol vehicles to electric cars.
The company plans to be the first to use electric vehicle (EV) battery producer Gotion High-Tech’s solid-state batteries when they start mass production, chairman Yin Tongyue told a conference in Hefei, capital of east China’s Anhui province, on Friday.

“To drive technological innovations in the automotive industry, Chery hopes to be the first assembler to power electric cars with Gotion’s solid-state batteries,” he said.

His statement added to evidence that Chery is focusing on battery technology as a driver for the growth of its EV segment. The carmaker, based in Wuhu, Anhui, is targeting annual sales of 1 million EVs, Yin said.

In April 2023, Contemporary Amperex Technology or CATL, the world’s largest EV battery maker, based in China’s eastern Fujian province, announced that Chery had become the first customer for its sodium-ion batteries. However, CATL has yet to begin production and delivery of those batteries.

Solid-state batteries are deemed to be a better option for EVs than batteries based on liquid electrolytes – including sodium-ion batteries and current lithium-ion and lithium-polymer batteries – because they are safer, more reliable and more efficient. The technology promises longer driving range, but requires higher development and production costs.

To date, only a tiny number of mass-produced cars assembled by Shanghai-based Nio and IM Motors are fitted with such batteries.
Gotion, the fourth-largest EV battery manufacturer in mainland China and eighth-largest worldwide, has not announced when mass production of its solid-state batteries will start.

Battery costs represent as much as 40 per cent of the cost of an EV.

In the first four months of this year, Chery sold 711,653 vehicles, up 55.7 per cent from the same period in 2023. Sales of plug-in hybrid and pure electric vehicles in that period jumped 165 per cent year on year to 32,995, but still accounted for less than 5 per cent of the total.

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Chery delivered 1.88 million vehicles to customers around the globe in 2023, up 52.6 per cent on year. Sales outside the mainland grew 101 per cent, topping 937,000 units and accounting for 49.8 per cent of total output. Chery did not reveal 2023 EV sales figures.

Founded in 1997, Chery was a pioneer among Chinese carmakers in internationalising its business. Last year the country became the world’s largest vehicle exporter, amid the increasing design and production heft of the Chinese carmakers.

China’s vehicle exports, including buses and lorries, jumped 58 per cent year on year to 4.91 million units in 2023, surpassing Japan as the world’s largest vehicle exporter.

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