According to a recent article by Green Car Reports, Chinese startup Neta Auto has claimed it may get rid of traditional electric vehicle (EV) battery packs and integrate the battery cells right into the EV's chassis.
Neta Auto just announced the concept this week and made it clear that it's part of an agreement with major global battery supplier CATL. In fact, the proprietary Integrated Intelligent Chassis (CIIC) tech belongs to CATL.
Tesla is currently working on producing Model Y crossovers with its new proprietary 4680 battery cells integrated right into the structure of the car. The structural battery pack is said to streamline manufacturing, save money, and make vehicles safer.
That said, the article notes that while Tesla's structural pack can still be removed, that doesn't seem to be the case with the Neta/CATL setup. This could be a cause for concern if there's an issue with the battery, motors, or other components and could hinder the eventual recycling process.
If Neta moves forward with the project in partnership with CATL, it will be the first Chinese automotive company to fully develop and implement such new technology. Since the tech isn't quite the same as Tesla's, Neta and CATL could actually be the first in the world to bring it to market, though other companies are also working with CATL and aiming to use its tech.
Currently, most EVs rely on a "skateboard" style battery pack, which is low and relatively flat to sit beneath the floor of the EV. In some cases, the battery pack is actually part of the car's floor itself. Prior to most automotive companies adopting the skateboard concept, battery packs would tend to cut into passenger and cargo space and potentially disrupt a vehicle's center of gravity.
With the CATL cell-to-chassis concept, there is no battery pack. Rather, all the battery cells and related components are built right into the vehicle's underlying structure. Based on Neta Auto's press release, the design will guarantee improvements to the car's driving range, safety, and more.
CATL is offering its CIIC to automakers complete with the cell-to-chassis tech, the electric motors, and all related drive components. This way, it can be used universally as a modular platform for purpose-built EVs.