Prospects for the application of sodium batteries for electric two wheeled vehicles

Prospects for the application of sodium batteries for electric two-wheeled vehicles

Table of Contents

In the context of historically high and rising lithium salt prices, new battery technology has provided opportunities for development, and the new energy industry is rapidly advancing the mass production plan of sodium batteries. As the price of lithium carbonate remains high, the industrial chain accelerates the deployment of sodium batteries.

As midstream and battery companies make new progress in the sodium battery business, sodium batteries will definitely bring new growth to the battery industry. It is expected that the first batch of sodium battery production capacity will be put into production in the first half of 2023, and motorcycle battery manufacturers in China will launch new products using sodium battery as soon as the second half of the year.

Advantages of sodium batteries in electric two-wheeler market

From the perspective of policy factors, the current installed battery route of electric two-wheelers is mainly lead-acid batteries, accounting for more than 75%. After the launch of the new national standard, it is stipulated that the weight of electric bicycles (accounting for more than 90% of electric two-wheeled vehicles) should not exceed 55 kg. Since the actual energy density of lead-acid batteries is only 40Wh/kg, the launch of the new national standard directly limits the upper limit of the cruising range of electric bicycles with lead-acid batteries installed.

From the perspective of energy density, the energy density of sodium batteries is 100~120Wh/kg, which is close to the energy density of lithium batteries of 120~140Wh/kg. Much higher than the energy density of lead-acid batteries of 40Wh/kg, it can have a higher cruising range under the limitation of the vehicle quality of the new national standard.

Advantages of sodium batteries in electric two-wheeler market

From the perspective of cycle life, the measured cycle times of sodium batteries are 1600~1800 times, which is superior to the 1000 cycles of lithium manganese oxide, and has a greater advantage compared to 800 times of lead-acid batteries. This means that in the cycle life of a sodium battery, a lead-acid battery needs to use two sets of batteries.

In terms of charging rate, sodium batteries have obvious advantages over the other three batteries. Sodium batteries can be charged from 0% to 90% in only 0.5-1 hour, while lithium batteries need 4-5 hours, and lead-acid batteries need 6-7 hours.

However, in the early stage of mass production, the cost of sodium battery is 0.7~0.75 RMB/Wh, which is still a certain gap compared with the cost of lead-acid batteries of 0.3~0.32 RMB/Wh. In addition to the recycling value of lead-acid batteries, after considering the number of cycles, sodium battery will only gradually replace lead-acid batteries when the cost drops below 0.6 RMB/Wh. At this stage, sodium batteries will mainly replace lithium batteries of two wheeler lithium battery manufacturers in China.

The future market of electric two-wheelers

According to statistics, the number of electric two-wheelers in China will be 350 million in 2021, and the number will still increase slightly every year. It is expected to grow to 400 million by 2025. In 2021, the sales volume of electric two-wheelers in China will be 48.6 million, a year-on-year increase of 13.02%, mainly due to the new national standard policy. As the transition period gradually ends in various places, the growth rate is expected to return to normal. It is expected to achieve 60.25 million sales in 2025 .

The future market of electric two-wheelers

From the data of subdivided demand, 70% of the annual demand comes from natural car replacement, accounting for about 10% of the inventory three years ago. Due to the introduction of the new national standard policy, the demand for car replacement due to the new national standard has increased in the past two years.

In 2019, this demand accounted for 4% of the sales volume, and the proportion will increase to 10% by 2021. The other two drivers of annual sales come from the demand for takeaway vehicles and the demand for shared motorcycles, which will account for 12% and 8% respectively in 2021.

Application scale of sodium batteries in electric two-wheeled vehicles

After the introduction of the new national standard, the difficulty and cost of 3C certification have increased, which has increased the market share of leading companies. In 2021, Yadea and Emma together occupy more than 50% of the market, and the top five companies occupy more than 70% of the market. The application scale and penetration speed of sodium battery in the electric two-wheeled vehicle market mainly depend on whether Yadi and Emma start to promote electric two-wheeled vehicles equipped with sodium  ion battery and the rate of reduction in the industrialization cost of sodium battery.

According to the downstream situation, companies such as CATL, HiNa BATTERY, and NATRIUM have already sent samples to top electric two-wheeler companies, and it is expected to launch electric two-wheeler products with sodium batteries in the second half of next year at the earliest. Combined with the quotation of sodium battery in 2022, the estimated cost in the early stage of mass production (2022-2024) is 0.68-0.75RMB/Wh.

Application scale of sodium batteries in electric two-wheeled vehicles

2028 is a more important time node for sodium batteries, because sodium batteries just go through a complete product life cycle and are expected to be the starting point for large-scale applications. According to the forecast model of the research team, under neutral assumptions, sodium batteries are expected to achieve an installed capacity of 4.4GWh in the field of electric two-wheeled vehicles in 2025, and an installed capacity of 26.8GWh in 2030.

Conclusion

Since the new battery of sodium ion battery was exposed, its advantages and disadvantages compared with lithium batteries are also widely known. Compared with lithium batteries, sodium-ion batteries do not have an advantage in energy density, which will inevitably lead to larger volume and weight of sodium-ion batteries. This is definitely not good for power batteries, especially for electric vehicles. The existing lithium battery packs already account for a large proportion of the weight of electric vehicles. If they are replaced with sodium-ion batteries, the proportion will only be greater.

Therefore, some professionals have made predictions before that the future of sodium-ion batteries lies in energy storage applications, which are not so suitable as power batteries for electric vehicles. However, in the current two-wheeled electric vehicle market, although sodium-ion batteries are not comparable to lithium batteries, they still have obvious advantages in energy density compared to lead-acid batteries, which still dominate the market. And the lower cost of sodium-ion batteries than lithium batteries makes them more advantageous when replacing lead-acid batteries.

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