China’s electric car market, the largest of its kind worldwide, is no short of shooting-to-stardom stories. For instance, the country’s largest battery maker, CATL, is merely eight-year-old and it has made onto the supplier list of carmakers from Volkswagen to Toyota and BMW.
Such success stories have inspired many startups to dream big, including Svolt Energy Technology, China Daily reported.
A battery maker established in 2018, it will not see its first plant, located in Changzhou, Jiangsu province, to become operational until later this year, but the company’s President Yang Hongxin said it has worked out a plan of an annual global capacity of 100 GWh by 2025 and eventually become a top three player in the country.
The confidence arises from its products, which are made of stacked cells instead of the commonplace jelly roll ones, and its cooperation with BMW in its infancy.
Svolt traces its origins back to 2012 as the power business unit of China’s largest SUV maker Great Wall Motors.
The automaker inked a deal with BMW last year to produce electric MINIs, which has lent the Svolt team an opportunity to work with the premium carmaker, the report said.
Yang said his team was involved in the design of the electric car platform during the past two years and worked with BMW engineers in a lot of aspects, including battery cells, modules and systems.
“They gave us the help and support to work out mature products,” he said. “We have made a lot of progress in terms of technology, procedures, strategies and production and could not have done it without their support.”
Yang said he hopes Svolt to become of one of BMW’s suppliers as well, adding BMW and Daimler will begin testing their products in August.
Some Chinese carmakers, including Great Wall Motors, have already started testing.
Svolt believes its products are competitive. Made of stacked cells, its batteries outperform the jelly roll ones by 5% in energy density, by 10 percent in life cycle but are 15% cheaper, according to Yang.
Other battery makers including Panasonic and CATL have plans to develop stacking cell batteries as well, but Svolt claims to be the pioneer in this aspect so far, the report said.
The company said it is making “good progress” as well on developing a cobalt-free lithium-ion battery — a goal of battery producers aiming to eliminate the pricey and increasingly scarce mineral.
With its products, Yang said he expects Svolt to make a breakthrough in the market. CATL, which dominates the market, accounted for more than 40% of sales in the first half of 2018.
“This is the result of insufficient competition,” Yang said. “Normally, in any market one player will not have a market share of above 30 percent.”
He said the situation may change soon, as China abolished the white list of battery makers in June, enabling more companies to play a level playing field.
In the same month, South Korean battery maker LG Chem teamed up with Chinese carmaker Geely to build a joint venture in China, the report said.
“In the long run, such competition will drive down the cost of batteries and benefit the electric car industry as a whole,” Yang said.
Svolt is ramping up its efforts to seize its share. Its first Chinese plant, which is under construction, will have a capacity of 12 GWh by 2020. By the end of 2025, the combined capacity in China is expected to reach 76 GWh, with total investment reaching 26 billion yuan ($3.78 billion).