Research finds limited automotive applications for sodium-ion batteries
Emerging chemistry set to lose out to LFP despite cost advantage
Sodium-ion batteries will not reach commercial scale until 2035 and will have limited applications in the EV industry, according to new research from South Korean consultancy firm SNE Research.
SNE projects that sodium-ion cells will be "used in the two-wheeler, small-size EV,
and energy storage system industries", as opposed to larger electric cars.
This accords with the view of consultancy Bloomberg NEF (BNEF), which in December told EV inFocus that the relatively low energy density of sodium cells, and hence their larger size for a given capacity, betters suits the chemistry to energy storage systems (ESS).
"In terms of sodium-ion, we see it playing a more important role in ESS, because it is quite comparable with LFP in terms of energy density. It is on the lower end and ESS is less sensitive to that metric, because there is more space available to put those batteries," says BNEF.
SNE predicts that sodium-ion will bring cost advantages over LFP, and will be 11-24pc cheaper than comparable LFP cells by 2035.
"Based on its strong competitive edge in price, sodium-ion batteries seem to have become a new player in the low- to middle-priced battery market," says the research.
The South Korean firm forecasts that a maximum of 254.5GWh of SIB demand is expected in the market by 2035. If such demand is converted into price, the market size is expected to $14.2bn per year.
This projection for sodium-ion capacity pales in comparison to estimates from research group S&P Global, which predicts that global LFP capacity will reach 6.5TWh by 2030.
Few sodium-ion EV initiatives have yet made it into even small-scale commercial electric car production production.
Despite Catl's April announcement that its first sodium-ion battery would power Chinese OEM Chery's EVs, there is as yet no sign of any Catl sodium-ion batteries being used in EVs at scale.
However Chinese battery maker Farasis says its sodium-ion batteries are being installed into JMEV EV3s that will be produced from late December this year.
In China, two-wheelers using sodium cells have been already released in the market, including via motorcycle maker Yadi, which established its subsidiary Huayu and released an electric motorcycle model, the Ji Na No.1, at the end of 2023.