Samsung SDI, one of the world's largest EV battery manufacturers, continues to expand its battery business during the first half of 2023.
Our attention was caught by the recent quarterly report, in which the South Korean manufacturer mentioned solid-state batteries (SSB) and 46xx-type cylindrical battery cells (a diameter of 46 mm and unspecified height), as the future growth engines.
That's an interesting thing. We know that Samsung SDI has been working hard on the large cylindrical battery cells for quite some time (the earliest unofficial reports emerged in 2022 - in May, in June, and in September).
The company specifically wrote "line setup" in regard to SSB and 46xx batteries so we know that preparations are underway. Let's recall that the current lineup of Samsung SDI batteries includes various types of cylindrical cells (1865, 2170) as well as pouch and prismatic ones.
The use of the "46Φ" sign in the presentation indicates that Samsung SDI is working on multiple versions (height) of battery cells with 46 mm diameter for various customers (which would support the earlier rumors). For reference, Tesla is using 4680-type cells (the height is 80 mm), while BMW announced two types: 4695 and 46120.
One of the most interesting things is that, according to the company, the 46xx batteries achieved target performance earlier than planned and Samsung SDI "started preparation of sample for customer."
Well, it's difficult to say what "performance" was achieved, but as far as batteries are considered, the most important things are energy density, charging/discharging time, cycle life in typical temperatures and of course costs.
If the samples are going to be sent to customers, we must add potentially at least several months if not more than a year before series production, as there will be time needed for external tests of battery packs and feedback related to things that need to be eventually corrected.
Anyway, according to The Elec's unofficial sources, Samsung SDI is planning to expand its battery factory in Goed, Hungary to accommodate 46120-type cylindrical battery cells (a diameter of 46 mm and height of 120 mm).
This particular form factor and location would indicate that the production is envisioned for BMW, which announced the 46120-type as one of the two types that will be used in its next-generation electric cars. BMW is also building a new BEV factory in Debrecen, Hungary. On top of that, we must remember that Samsung SDI is a long-standing BMW supplier of batteries (prismatic type, since BMW i3/i8).
As a side note, we can add that there might be multiple other customers, including General Motors, which signed up for unspecified cylindrical battery cells from Samsung SDI.
However, the scale of production - according to the unofficial report - will be 10 gigawatt-hours (GWh), which is not a very high number (potentially enough for BMW, assuming that CATL and EVE Energy will also be supplying 46xx batteries in Europe).
A separate report from The Elec says that Samsung SDI-backed battery equipment manufacturer Philenergy will launch a new line of products aimed at 46xx-type cylindrical batteries. If we connect the dots, it seems that the South Korean manufacturer is treating the new large cylindrical format very seriously.