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VW-backed brand starts building sodium-ion-powered electric cars

The first mass-produced vehicles with sodium-ion batteries have started rolling off the production line in China.

The new electric hatchback is from the Yiwei brand, part of Anhui Jianghuai Automobile (JAC) which Volkswagen owns 75 per cent of. The German giant also owns 50 per cent of JAC’s parent company, JAG.

First previewed at the Shanghai motor show in April last year, the as-yet unnamed model closely resembles the E10X from the short-lived Sehol brand.

It features sodium-ion cylindrical cells supplied by HiNa Battery with a honeycomb battery structure intended to reduce the potential of combustion.

“Sodium batteries are poised to complement the industry alongside lithium iron phosphate batteries, providing a cost-effective solution to propel the mass adoption of electric vehicles,” said Xia Shunli, chairman of Ywei Technology.

JAC hasn’t released any specifications for the new Yiwei model, however CarNewsChina reports the lithium-free battery has a 25kWh capacity and a claimed 252km of range.

The Yiwei brand debuted in 2023 with the 3 hatchback, featuring a lithium-iron phosphate battery. This model will reportedly also gain the option of a sodium-ion battery.

Sodium-ion battery technology – for electric vehicles (EVs), at least – is in its infancy, but these batteries are understood to be cheaper to produce than lithium iron phosphate units and can perform better in the cold despite being less energy-dense.

JAC isn’t alone in investing in the technology, with BYD and CATL – the latter a prominent battery supplier for carmakers like Tesla – also working on sodium-ion batteries.

CATL has previously confirmed it will supply sodium-ion batteries to Chery.

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