Boston-Power Targets Own Gigafactory

JAN 27 2015 BY MARK KANE 14

Boston-Power’s Ensemble system

Boston-Power’s Ensemble system

Boston-Power secured $290 million in “financial support” from Chinese government agencies in late 2014 to expand its battery factories to GWh levels.

“The company claims that this latest funding event allows Boston-Power to grow its Liyang facility fivefold by 2016 and expand its Tianjin facility capacity to 4 gigawatt-hours by 2017, aiming to reach 8 gigawatt-hours by 2018. Clearly, capex costs for a battery factory in China are cheaper than building a factory in Reno, Nevada.”

Since foundation in 2005, the company received $600 million in funding and now employs 50 workers in Boston and almost 500 in China.

According to CEO Sonny Wu, Boston-Power’s strategy is based on the prediction that China will be battery constrained in the near future, especially due to fast growth of sales of EVs.

For now, Boston-Power’s lithium-ion cells stands at some 200 Wh/kg.

“Boston-Power is partnering with Chinese auto manufacturers to produce four-seater electric cars with an 80-mile to 120-mile range from a small 13-kilowatt-hour battery pack at a total cost of about $8,000. That price point seems more aligned with providing a cheap functional vehicle to a growing middle class than a $100,000 sedan or a $40,000 family car.”


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14 Comments on "Boston-Power Targets Own Gigafactory"

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More places that can produce batteries for cars/mass transit the better IMO.

To replace the ICE we need 200 of these factories. It is best to have these factories where there is zero cost for the energy to make the batteries. Like Tesla did, so as to reduce the cost and thus the price of the batteries.

The Chinese are certainly making efforts to switch to a electrified transportation model, with good reason. It focuses the mind when one is unable to breathe.

Panasonic beats 200 Wh/kg more like 240 Wh/kg.

Cost of batteries delivered to the US from China may beat GF but I doubt it.

Chinese factory will almost certainly be much dirtier than Tesla’s. The source of raw materials will be much dirtier than Tesla’s possibly/likely including conflict minerals from Africa sourced by Chinese mining companies.

And GF batteries will not burn massive amounts of diesel delivering the batteries to Fremont as opposed to Boston Power potentially delivering these batteries to Europe and North America.

I’m surprised that they haven’t renamed the company Beijing-Power.

It seems like they are using LCO cells (like the Roadster). That makes me extremely skeptical of claims that their cells have better energy density than Tesla’s (NCA have been tested to have significantly better cycle life). Also, higher cobalt usage and lower energy density of LCO makes for higher $/kWh costs (because of higher material costs).

Sure, the factory may cost less to build (which will be amortized anyways), but what’s the critical $/kWh target? We know Elon’s target is $100/kWh. The CEO never mentions it.

And the critical thing about Elon’s factory is not just volume, but rather vertical integration (from raw material to finished pack). It’s unclear if Boston’s factories are building packs or just the cells.

Boston-Power use NCA/NMC mix not LCO.

They also have lower energy density than Panasonic/Tesla.

Max continuous discharge is 2.45 C, although the SOC window is 0 to 100%. So I suspect the max continuous discharge rate will be higher when the SOC window is reduced.

207 Wh/kg. They claim better lifecycle than Panasonic. Their next generation cells should apparently be a bit higher.

Now, they are small cells. I haven’t seen an analysis on the differences in terms of pack design between small cells and large pouch cells. Most automotive manufacturers have a tendency to go with the latter for some reason.

Very cool data. Thanks for the link.

They definitely seem to have very good 100% DoD cycle life, but that’s not really how EVs are typically used, so it’s a bit misleading how they position themselves as superior to Panasonic.

A full EV for $8k with a 13 kWh pack seems to suggest that they have good potential to get costs down. Let’s see how low they can go…

A car can be $8k, because crash standards are far lower, along with other customer expectations. Where BMW uses carbon fiber, China uses cut corners.

Chinese automaker designs are unsellable in developed nations, and even draw sideways glances in, e. g. Latin America.

“So I suspect the max continuous discharge rate will be higher when the SOC window is reduced.”

No relation between the two.

So now we know where the Chinese clones of the Teslas will be getting their batteries.

Even given that things are considerably cheaper in China, and even given that their environmental regulations are much more lax, $290 million doesn’t appear to be a significant amount compared to the ~$5 billion that Tesla and its partners are expected to invest in their GigaFactory.

As they say: Money talks, B.S. walks.

There is something that puzzles me. The size of the Tesla GF. It looks too big for just half a million cars a year and some for the stationary market. If I am right then the Tesla GF is cheap.

But energy prices in China are significantly more expensive. I have a hard time believing that an industry where automation is critical for uniformity cells, and energy is a significant cost driver, that China would beat the US in manufacturing costs. Best of luck, in any case.