The Warren Buffet-backed Chinese electric vehicle and battery manufacturer BYD has hatched a bold new plan in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak to sell electric vehicle parts to rivals, as it seeks to redefine safety standards with a new “Blade” lithium iron phosphate electric vehicle (EV) battery.
Electric vehicle sales have been on a downturn in China since July 2019, the largest market for zero emissions cars by volume in the world. While the slump was initially sparked by a pulling back on government subsidies to purchase EVs. the more recent spread of the deadly Coronavirus has worsened the fall.
Originally a maker of mobile phone batteries, BYD expanded in 2003 to car making with its first electric vehicles powered by lithium ion batteries – typically packaged much like a standard 12V car battery – rolled out in 2006.
Its latest expansion is into the EV parts market, under a new sub-brand called FinDreams which will have five main auto parts subsidiaries encapsulating FinDreams Vision, FinDreams Technology, FinDreams Moduling, FinDreams Battery, and FinDreams Powertrain, according to the China Daily.
“BYD will open its technology and products to the whole world,” Wang Chuanfu was quoted as saying by Bloomberg at a press conference on Sunday.
“FinDreams units will help change the role participants in Chinese auto industry play in the global new energy arena.”
One of the products to be made by the FinDream’s battery sub-brand is the new Blade lithium iron phosphate battery, a type of lithium-ion battery.
According to a release by BYD, the Blade battery arranges cells in an array before insertion into the pack, resulting in a 50% improvement in use of space.
Breaking from the traditional box-shaped pack, the super thin, flat battery also seeks to address concerns about EV battery safety.
The Chinese company says it has tested the Blade battery by penetrating it with nails – a test that would typically result in 200-400°C temperature on the surface of traditional lithium ion batteries leaving them open to potential thermal runaway events even though smoke or fire may be emitted.
In the Blade battery test however, BYD says the surface temperature only reached 30 to 60°C, suggesting a much likelihood of thermal runaway.
Compared to an NMC lithium battery also used in the test which was severely damaged and reached more than 500°C (see below), the Blade battery does indeed appear to offer a vast improvement.
“In terms of battery safety and energy density, BYD’s Blade Battery has obvious advantages,” said Professor Ouyang Minggao, Member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Professor at Tsinghua University was quoted as saying by BYD.
He Long, VP of BYD and chairman of the FinDreams Battery sub-brand, says the Blade battery will be offered to global partners.
“Today, many vehicle brands are in discussion with us about partnerships based on the technology of the Blade Battery,” said He Long in a statement.
First though, the Han EV which is slated for launch by BYD this June forming the flagship model for the Chinese EV maker’s Dynasty series and offering 605km driving range according to BYD, will feature the new Blade battery.
The Shenzhen-based auto maker has also stepped onto the global stage recently to assist with efforts to contain the Covid-19 pandemic.
One of several EV makers that have added medical equipment to their manufacturing lines to boost a global shortage of ventilators and personal protection equipment such as face masks, BYD announced it had accelerated R&D for mask making machines and was producing 5 million masks a day alongside 500,000 bottles of hand sanitizer.
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Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.