UPDATE, January 2023: Sodium-Ion (Na-Ion) batteries explained
As news of Na-Ion battery tech becomes a hotter topic, we've put together a guide on what the technology is, how it works, and when we can expect to see it in new EVs. Will you be prioritising EVs with Na-Ion battery packs?
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December 2022: BYD may launch first sodium-ion battery electric car in 2023
- BYD Seagull electric city hatch to reportedly feature sodium-ion battery
- Sodium-ion cheaper and more sustainable than lithium-ion
- Lithium ion Blade battery will remain on top trim
Shenzhen automaker BYD (Build Your Dreams) will reportedly launch a sodium-ion battery next year with its entry-level hatchback.
According to local media outlets, the BYD Seagull may be the first production electric vehicle to feature the sodium-ion chemistry – which is more sustainable, cheaper to produce and safer than conventional lithium-based packs it replaces.
Sodium-ion batteries are mooted to substitute lithium-iron-phosphate (LFP) packs for lower range entry-level EVs. They house significantly less raw materials with no lithium, cobalt, copper or graphite making the cheaper to produce, while being recyclable like a lithium-ion battery.
The Seagull hatch is reported to launch in China in the second quarter (April to June inclusive) of 2023, starting from ¥60,000 yuan (A$12,500) with the sodium-ion battery providing up to 300km of range. This is likely on the generous China Light-Duty Vehicle Test Cycle (CLTC).
However, BYD is also expected to offer a ¥80,000 yuan LFP battery version with 400km of driving range. Like all BYD electric cars, it’s based on the Chinese carmaker’s proprietary Blade Battery technology, which is said to be more space efficient, safer and durable than standard LFP packs.
While sodium-ion batteries cost the same as lithium units currently, the report states BYD aims to bring the cost down over time as mass production ramps up. The cheaper batteries may even expand to the BYD Dolphin small electric car, which was spotted testing in Sydney streets this week.
The Seagull is smaller than the Seal and has not been rumoured for Australian sale.
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BYD models are imported by EVDirect, with the Atto 3 small SUV the only model currently on sale priced from $44,381 before on-road costs and incentives.
The two new models were initially promised for pre-order at the end of this year, but EVDirect CEO Luke Todd told Wheels this week
that the delay was because the imports wants "to move towards being a brand that can release models closer to the actual delivery date”.
A yet-to-be revealed BYD electric ute has also been previously mooted as a potential model to land in Australia.