China now dominates the lithium-ion battery market because it has produced huge quantities of the cheapest traction batteries for electric vehicles based on iron phosphate. As Japanese and European manufacturers invest heavily in the development of solid-state batteries, Chinese companies do not want to be left behind and have joined their research efforts in a consortium.
The publication reported this this week Nikkei Asian Review, talking about an event in China that brought together representatives of more than 200 companies, departments and scientific organizations. Under the auspices of the Chinese government, the CASIP consortium was created at the end of January, whose designation stands for China All-Solid-State Collaborative Innovation Platform. Loosely translated, the organization’s name describes the nationwide effort by Chinese developers to create solid-state batteries.
It is noteworthy that the consortium united competitors from among Chinese automakers and suppliers of traction batteries. BYD, CATL, CALB, EVE Energy, Svolt Energy Technology and Gotion High-Tech stood under the banner of the organization. In total, six of the ten largest traction battery manufacturers in the world were members of this consortium. Some of these battery manufacturers have grievances against each other that have materialized into lawsuits. This did not stop them from putting aside their differences and expressing their desire to jointly develop solid-state batteries. The latter should not only increase the energy storage density and reduce the weight of batteries, but also significantly reduce charging time and reduce the dependence of batteries on ambient temperature. In addition, solid-state batteries are safer in terms of the risk of fire.
The alliance also includes automakers from China, including BYD and NIO, which also compete with each other. The authors of the idea of such consolidation hope that with the involvement of government resources and artificial intelligence systems, Chinese manufacturers will be able to launch the production of solid-state batteries by 2030, thereby not losing their leading position in the market if competing initiatives are successful. Japanese Toyota and Nissan expect to bring to market the first electric vehicles equipped with solid-state batteries by 2028. German Volkswagen and BMW are not going to lag behind, supporting specialized startups that are developing traction batteries of this type.
According to Chinese experts, by the middle of this decade, cars with traction batteries will form more than half of the primary car market in the world. China, with its huge potential for vehicle sales, could be an excellent testing ground for new types of batteries. Local manufacturers, with the right approach, could start producing solid-state batteries on a commercial basis by 2030. However, at the level of research activity, the advantage is still on the side of Japanese manufacturers. The same Toyota has more than 1,300 patents in the field of creating solid-state batteries, while Chinese companies have not yet reached the bar of 100 specialized patents. Toyota expects to begin mass production of new generation batteries no earlier than 2030, so Chinese companies have a chance of not giving in to it in this race.