As U.S. automakers and regulators dial back their EV timelines, China continues to charge forward.

Chinese automakers sold more EVs in January 2024 than the next 19 countries combined, and they’re not just forging ahead with commercialization but also innovation. Reports out of China suggest that mass-produced solid-state batteries are no longer a distant reality, but something that’s close to market launch.

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Solid-state batteries could be the next big thing in battery tech.

They promise a higher energy density, faster charging times, improved safety, and longer lifespan. But they will likely encounter the same roadblocks early NMC or NCA batteries faced—manufacturing at scale and at a cost that consumers can digest. 

Is this really true? We don’t know for sure, but one company is making big claims. IM Motors is a joint venture between China’s state-owned SAIC group, e-commerce company Alibaba and property developer Zhangjiang Hi-Tech. The EV company claimed on microblogging platform Weibo that its Zhiji L6 sedan will be the world’s first mass-produced EV equipped with an ultra-fast solid-state battery.

Technical details will be revealed at the Beijing Auto Show on April 8, but so far the L6 is claimed to have a 130-kilowatt-hour solid-state battery with 621 miles of range on the overly optimistic CLTC range.

European WLTC figures are about 22% higher than the U.S. EPA figures, whereas Chinese CLTC numbers are roughly 35% more. So by EPA standards, the L6’s range would be just over 400 miles on a single charge.

IM Motors Zhiji L6 Solid State Battery

Solid-state batteries are considered the next big thing in battery technology. Unlike the traditional liquid or gel electrolyte found in most lithium-based batteries, solid-state batteries use a solid electrolyte.

This solid electrolyte enhances safety, energy density and longevity compared to traditional batteries. Several carmakers (like Toyota) and battery manufacturers like BYD and CATL, are racing to develop this technology.

IM Motors claims that the Zhiji L6 sedan uses a patented “nano-scale electrolyte” with “high ionic conductivity and high-temperature resistance.” It also states that the battery’s cathode (positive electrode) is coated with nickel whereas the anode (negative electrode) is made from a “high-specific energy composite silicon carbon material.”

There’s also a quasi-900-volt battery architecture, meaning it should charge at blistering speeds on a powerful enough DC charger.

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This tech doesn’t appear cheap. On Weibo, IM Motors has posted videos of the L6 performing Hummer EV-esque crab walks. It also appears to have acres of digital real estate with dashboard-wide screens and a Model S-like steering yoke.

All this sounds cool, but IM Motors’ claims should be taken with a grain of salt, at least for now. CarNewsChina reported that local regulatory filings indicate smaller NCM batteries, with either 90 or 100 kWh options with 447-466 miles of CLTC range.

But IM Motors has reiterated on Weibo that L6 will get an industry-first solid-state battery. When the brand will deliver it remains to be seen. 

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