China’s leading electric vehicle (EV) battery manufacturer, Contemporary Amperex Technology Co Ltd (CATL) plans to begin production of sodium ion batteries late next year, a company executive said.

CATL unveiled its sodium ion battery in July, saying the breakthrough marks a key milestone in its quest for develop alternative materials for EV batteries.

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The company expects shortages of mainstream materials such as nickel sulphate to emerge by 2025 as global demand for EVs continues to surge.

The company claims its sodium ion batteries can achieve energy densities of up to 160 Watt-hour per kilogramme, which it says is the highest in the world for this class of battery.

The assistant to the company’s chairman, Meng Xiangfeng, told an industry conference last week the company had solved some key technical issues and has also addressed a lack of available raw materials for the production of sodium ion batteries.

Meng said: “The company is preparing to establish a raw material supply system for sodium ion batteries. The only major problem left is to increase battery production capacity.”

The company, based in Ningde in Fujian province, added it plans to have a basic supply chain in place by 2023.

The China Automotive Battery Innovation Alliance said output of batteries for energy storage systems and for new energy vehicles (NEVs) surged by 162% to 19.5 gigawatt-hours (GWh) in August, reflecting surging demand of EVs in the country.

The data showed that output of lithium iron phosphate batteries jumped by 268% to 11.1 GWh, while production of ternary lithium batteries rose by over 91% to 8.4 GWh.