SAIC Motor Corp, in partnership with QingTao Energy Development, a solid-state battery startup it backs, has revealed plans to establish a joint venture aimed at manufacturing advanced solid-state batteries. The collaboration was announced by SAIC on the previous evening, outlining a strategic venture with a registered capital of RMB 1 billion ($137 million). QingTao Energy will contribute RMB 510 million for a 51 percent stake, while SAIC will invest RMB 490 million for a 49 percent stake.
This investment structure mirrors a common practice among battery manufacturers and automobile companies. Notably, China's leading power battery manufacturer, CATL, often holds a 51 percent stake in its battery-focused joint ventures with automakers.
The joint venture between SAIC and QingTao Energy will be dedicated to developing next-generation solid-state batteries with a focus on cost-effectiveness through innovative technology and affordable raw materials, while ensuring robust battery safety.
QingTao Energy, which enjoys SAIC's backing, has been working collaboratively with the auto giant for several years in the pursuit of advancements in solid-state battery technology. SAIC has demonstrated its commitment by participating in multiple investment rounds in QingTao Energy, totaling about RMB 2.98 billion. This cumulative investment has conferred SAIC with an approximate 15.29 percent indirect stake in the battery manufacturing company.
In a noteworthy development, SAIC and QingTao Energy established a joint laboratory on July 6, 2022, aimed at advancing solid-state battery technology. Their joint efforts have been directed towards achieving the mass production of solid-state batteries with exceptional characteristics, including a vehicle range exceeding 1,000 kilometers, high-speed 4C charging capability, and the development of solid-state batteries with superior safety and extended lifespan.
The collaborative endeavor is further solidified by the announcement made on May 31, wherein SAIC and QingTao signed a framework agreement for capital injection and strategic cooperation. The joint goal outlined in this agreement envisions the integration of solid-state batteries into over 100,000 vehicles produced by SAIC by the year 2025.
The cooperative efforts have already yielded significant results. QingTao Energy reported the successful testing of first-generation solid-state batteries in prototypes, achieving an energy density of 368 Wh/kg without any instances of thermal runaway at the system level. This milestone facilitated a remarkable maximum range of 1,083 kilometers for the test vehicles.
The endeavor resonates with the broader industry trends, where companies like Nio are also making strides in solid-state battery technology. Nio, a key player in the electric vehicle sector, introduced a 150-kWh semi-solid-state battery during its Nio Day 2020 event. Despite the advancements, the launch timeline for Nio's battery has faced delays, underscoring the intricate challenges associated with cutting-edge battery technologies.
SAIC and QingTao Energy's partnership signifies a significant stride towards the future of electric vehicles, as the industry collectively strives for safer, more efficient, and longer-lasting energy solutions.