A few months ago, NIO announced the progress of the development work on its new semi-solid battery. A pack that will reach 150 kWh and that the latest leaks indicate that it will begin its commercial life this coming summer.
So at least it follows from a publication of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of China, which has indicated that within the last group of models that will be put up for sale there are up to three NIO proposals.
The most striking thing is that these proposals are not presented as new models, but rather are vehicles already developed that will receive changes in their specifications. Specifically in the aspect of their batteries.
The three models include two SUVs and a sedan, something that indicates that we are possibly talking about the ET7, the saloon, and the EC7 and ES8 SUVs. Of course, aspect still to be confirmed.
The specification changes for all three models indicate that they will use battery cells from NIO’s investee company, Huzhou WeLion Technology. And although it is not explicitly indicated in the text that they are semi-solid cells, the mention of Welion confirms this aspect since she is in charge of its development.
This battery stands out for its high nickel content, which will allow them to enjoy a specific energy of 360Wh/kg. Something that places it above the most cutting-edge cells currently that are around 260 Wh/kg and that will facilitate the installation of packs of up to 150 kWh.
This will translate into autonomies under the CLTC cycle of 1,000 kilometers, with the figure under the WLTP cycle still unknown, but possibly around 890 kilometers. All in addition according to the developers of Welion, with a weight of just 20 kilos more than current models.
Conventional lithium batteries in use today have a liquid electrolyte between the cathode (positive) and the anode (negative). This electrolyte serves as a medium where ions move between the cathode and anode.
And here is the main difference of this design, and that is that the electrolyte in the case of the NIO battery is not liquid but solid. It is usually glass, ceramic, or another solid material.
Without the need for liquid, these types of batteries have a higher energy density, are more compact and lighter, which in practice allows them to reduce weight or increase energy capacity at the pack level. In addition, they are faster to charge and have a longer lifespan.
Another benefit of this technology is its thermal stability, which makes it much safer than models with liquid electrolyte, and will not catch fire even when punctured or impacted in the event of an accident.
The documents also speak of an arrival of these new versions, which will land on the market this summer, although for now only in rental format, predictably due to its high price.
But this will mean that in 2024 the technology will be able to begin to gain some maturity to lower prices, and offer a long-range alternative for the most competitive vehicles.