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CATL says development of solid-state batteries still faces technical challenges


Solid-state battery technology is constrained by cost economics, performance indicators and industry chain support, and it will take a long time from the resolution of technical difficulties, customer certification to mass production, CATL said.

Solid-state battery development still faces technical difficulties and mass production will take a long time, Chinese power battery giant CATL said in a response to questions from the Shenzhen Stock Exchange.

The Shenzhen-listed company’s plan to raise a large amount of money from specific targets was approved by the Shenzhen Stock Exchange last week, but was asked to respond to questions about production capacity and new technologies.

CATL was asked to explain the development of technology paths, including solid-state batteries, sodium-ion batteries and hydrogen fuel cells, and the risks this could pose to its operations and capacity expansion.

All-solid-state batteries are a type of battery that uses solid-state electrodes and solid-state electrolytes, with theoretical research dating back to at least the 1970s and three main technology paths including oxide, sulfide and polymer, CATL said in an announcement today.

Solid-state batteries and hydrogen fuel cells have certain technical features and advantages, but there are still unresolved technical problems and barriers to industrialization, it said.

These new technologies are subject to cost economics, performance indicators, and industry chain support constraints, and it will take a long time from technical problem solving, customer certification approval to mass production, CATL said, adding that they are still some distance away from achieving mature commercial applications.

The announcement cited a previous speech by Ouyang Minggao, an academician at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, who said it would take about 10 years for all-solid-state battery technology to achieve large-scale application and have a significant impact on the market landscape.

The first generation of all-solid-state batteries, which have roughly the same energy as existing liquid electrolyte lithium-ion batteries, are expected to emerge by 2025, with their market share approaching 1 percent likely around 2030, the CATL announcement said, citing the speech.

Second-generation all-solid-state batteries with new cathode and anode materials are expected to emerge after 2030, and the next generation of solid-state batteries is expected to enter the market after 2035, according to the announcement.

When NIO unveiled the ET7 sedan at the NIO Day 2020 event, it said the model would have a 150 kWh solid-state battery available in the future, giving the technology widespread attention.

NIO et7 design story
NIO et7 design story

NIO’s aggressive goal was once met with skepticism, given that solid-state battery technology has not yet begun commercial mass production.

William Li, NIO founder, chairman and CEO, clarified in an interview after NIO Day 2020 that the NIO ET7’s solid-state battery is more accurately described as a semi-solid-state battery.

NIO has never disclosed the supplier of its solid-state batteries. Late last month, local tech outlet 36kr cited sources familiar with the matter as saying that CATL was developing a 150-kWh pack solution for NIO using ultra-high nickel technology.

The report cited investors close to NIO as saying that the company began preparing a 150-kWh semi-solid-state battery pack project in 2019 and first turned to CATL for a solution.

NIO’s engineering team spent almost half a year at the time communicating with CATL executives but was rebuffed on the plan.

“They felt it was impossible to achieve and that no one in the industry was offering such a solution,” the report quoted the person familiar with the matter as saying.

After running out of options, NIO set its sights on Beijing-based Beijing WeLion New Energy Technology, the first to bring in a second battery supplier four years after its exclusive partnership with CATL, according to the report.


At the end of November last year, another 36kr report said that NIO‘s 150-kWh semi-solid-state battery supplier was WeLion.

WeLion will receive an investment of about RMB 500 million from Xiaomi and Huawei, valued at RMB 5 billion, the report said, adding that Huawei, Xiaomi and Shunwei Capital had signed off on the investment in August.

NIO has provided significant resources to help WeLion deliver the battery on time, the report said, citing unnamed investors.

This article was first published by Phate Zhang on CnEVPost, a website focusing on new energy vehicle news from China.

CnEVPost is a website focused on the coverage of the new energy vehicle industry in China. As with our original intent for CnTechPost, there are a lot of interesting things happening in the Chinese EV industry every day, but they are not covered by the mainstream English language media. We're here to keep track of what's happening in the Chinese EV industry and strive to be the first to publish what we see in English.