The automotive world is made of multiple connections that you would better know to get the whole picture of any announcement. A good example is JAC Motors' strategic agreement with CBAK Energy, a Chinese lithium-ion cell manufacturer. Both companies will work on jointly developing “cylindrical lithium-ion batteries and battery packs, including the 46800 model.” Take a zero out of that, and you’ll have Tesla’s tabless 4680 cells.
If you are not aware of JAC, it is here that things get interesting. The Chinese automaker is one of the largest ones in its home country. More than that, the previously state-owned company is now in Volkswagen's hands, which holds 75 percent of its shares. Ultimately, Volkswagen is developing these 46800 cells with CBAK Energy.
When you remember that JAC is the company that builds cars for Nio, the web of automotive connections gets a little more intricate. Theoretically, Nio could use these new 46800 batteries developed by Volkswagen… oops, JAC, and CBAK Energy.
When we told you Volkswagen had bought JAC’s shares, we also mentioned that the German company became the biggest shareholder of Guoxuan High-Tech Co Ltd. – a Tier 2 battery maker also known as Gotian. Could it also manufacture these new cells?
The press release that informs about this strategic agreement does not state if the new 46800 cells from JAC and CBAK Energy will be tabless or not. That is an important part of Tesla’s technology because it will allegedly speed up the manufacturing process.
Producing a regular 46800 cell to compete with the tabless 4680 battery made by Tesla would probably make it more expensive from the very start. JAC and CBAK Energy must have something they are not talking about yet which turns these efforts.
The strategic agreement will be valid for three years. By 2024, Volkswagen is supposed to already have solid-state batteries made by QuantumScape. Would JAC and CBAK also be exploring this possibility? It is not clear yet, but one thing is for sure: Volkswagen is not fooling around when it comes to electric mobility.