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Tesla rival automaker breaks ground on game-changing new EV battery facility: 'This is outstanding news'

"[These] batteries offer a cheaper alternative."

“[These] batteries offer a cheaper alternative."

Photo Credit: iStock

The world's largest electric vehicle maker is taking another step forward.

BYD rang in the new year by breaking ground on its first sodium-ion battery plant in Xuzhou, China. The $1.4 billion project will produce 30 gigawatt hours of capacity annually, Electrek reported.

One GW is about how much energy two coal-fired power plants produce, and it can fire up 750,000 homes.

BYD was founded in China in 1995 and surpassed Tesla as the globe's leading EV manufacturer in the fourth quarter of 2023. As Electrek noted, BYD's battery arm, FinDreams, partnered with Huaihai Holding Group in June to break into the sodium-ion battery market, and the pair hopes to be the top supplier worldwide.

"Although lithium-ion is currently the primary battery in vehicles, companies are developing new chemistries to unlock lower prices, more range, faster charging, and less raw material use," Peter Johnson of Electrek wrote.

He added, "Sodium-ion batteries offer a cheaper alternative to lithium but have a lower energy density. The batteries are most useful in low-cost small cars or two-wheelers that don't need the higher energy density."

BYD batteries are used by Tesla and Ford, among others, and the former company will face increased competition this year as Chinese competitors and other automakers give chase, CNBC reported.

The first EV powered by a sodium-ion battery, JAC Group's Yiwei, which is backed by Volkswagen, debuted in late December. Electrek reported that the cells use cheaper raw materials than lithium-ion batteries, and they also perform better in extreme temperatures and charge faster.

A 2022 study showed sodium-ion batteries can be made to last longer than their counterparts, and their lack of toxic or flammable materials could make them safer and more environmentally friendly.

"I don't know much about these batteries but if they are cost competitive and at least as durable then they can easily displace lithium ion in stationary applications," one commenter wrote. "It could cause the residential and grid storage markets to explode (figuratively)."

Another said: "This is outstanding news, even for those who would never buy a car with a Sodium-ion battery.

"In low-end auto, industrial, and stationary applications sodium is going to be the chemistry of choice for not just cost, but versatility and safety. How many GW of capacity will that be a year that we won't need lithium for, right? Even if you never benefit directly from a sodium battery, you'll benefit from the lower cost and higher availability of lithium."

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