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[Senior engineer observation] Four problems need to be solved for the introduction of 21700 domestic applications

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2017-08-28 00:00:00.000

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With the Lishen 21700 battery listed in the 299th batch catalog of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, equipped with 2 new energy special models, the domestic 21700 battery officially ushered in the prelude to practical application.

 

Gaogong Lithium Battery learned that the 21700 battery shortlisted in the catalog has a capacity of 4.0Ah, adopts the NCM system, and the specific energy of the monomer reaches 210wh/kg, mainly aimed at the electric logistics vehicle and passenger car markets.

 

With the application of 21700 in China, the remarks about "local battery companies will set off a 21700 boom, and domestic 21700 is about to replace 18650" began to appear.

 

However, the analysis of the Advanced Industry Research Institute (GGII) believes that in order to make breakthroughs in the domestic application of the 21700 battery, there are at least 4 obstacles that need to be solved:

 

First, the corresponding technology and industrial supporting capacity are insufficient; Second, battery companies are on the sidelines; Third, square and soft pack power batteries are also actively seizing the market; Fourth, the 21700 battery has not yet been recognized by domestic new energy vehicle companies.

3 advantages to attract attention

Before analyzing the problem, there is a question that must be clear, why does 21700 attract the attention of domestic battery companies?

First, Tesla endorses it. In 2016, Tesla announced that the 21700 battery it jointly developed with Panasonic would be commercialized on the Model 3, and not long ago, Model 3 was confirmed to begin delivery.

Secondly, the performance is superior. Tesla's 21700 performance data shows that its single cell capacity is about 4.8Ah, and the energy density after group is increased by about 20% compared with 18650, which can effectively reduce the number of batteries installed in the vehicle, thereby simplifying the battery management system BMS, thermal management components, packaging materials, and effectively reducing the components and weight of the battery pack by about 10%.

In addition, the cost is superior. In terms of the cost that the entire lithium battery industry chain is more concerned about this year, the cost of Tesla's 21700 battery system can reach $155 / Wh, a reduction of 9%.

4 major obstacles to delaying promotion

It is difficult for "high-quality and cheap" new products not to make domestic power battery companies excited, but it also leads to the first problem that hinders the breakthrough of 21700 battery localization - insufficient technology and industrial supporting capabilities.

From the available data, the key to the superior performance of Tesla 21700 battery lies in material improvement. Including the use of NCA+ silicon-carbon system, so that the specific energy of the battery is as high as 300wh/kg; The use of pre-nickel-plated steel shell material to ensure enhanced cell consistency and safety; In addition, Tesla designed a new battery pack module, pack architecture and chassis structure on the Model 3.

However, the 21700 battery that has been mass-produced in China mainly adopts the NCM system, with a specific energy of 210-215wh/kg, and it is the mainstream practice to rely on volume expansion to seek energy density improvement. Since the core material technology has not yet broken through, the future upgrade of domestic batteries is also tentatively set for NCM811 and NCA systems; At the same time, because the core technology of pre-nickel-plated steel shell materials is controlled by Japanese companies, most domestic companies can only choose post-nickel-plated shell materials on the battery core shell.

Mention here can not help but remind people of 18650, also initiated by Tesla, causing domestic battery companies to follow suit, but now how big is the gap between domestic 18650 battery performance and Tesla's products? I believe that every battery company has a scale in its heart.

In addition to the limited supply capacity of upstream high-quality materials, domestic equipment companies failed to synchronize product updates with battery companies, which also delayed the localization of 21700.

According to public information, only one domestic equipment company, Pioneer Intelligence, has equipment products that match the performance of the 21700 battery production line. Even if the new 100,000-square-meter production base of Pioneer Intelligent is about to be put into use, it is difficult to supply many domestic battery companies that want to get involved in 21700 on their own.

At this stage, the attitude of battery companies to 21700 is the second important reason.

For the domestic power battery industry at the watershed, battery companies are expected to reduce market risks as much as possible, and there are many battery companies that wait for 21700 technology to mature before directly introducing new products.

Previously, it was rumored in the industry that many companies were stepping up the layout of the 21700 production line, but as far as the actual situation is concerned, only EVE Lithium Energy and Tianjin Lishen 2 companies publicly announced that they have built a new 21700 product production line and put it into production.

As for why there was no rush to production, a senior executive of a battery company who did not want to be named said: "In fact, before 21700, there were cylindrical batteries that were said to have better relative performance, such as 26650, 32113, etc., but in the end they failed to harvest the Chinese market. ”

The strong competition in the market for other types of power batteries is the third important factor.

As a new product of the cylindrical series, the 21700 battery has been greatly improved in performance and the technical requirements are more stringent. But at the same time, square and pouch batteries, which also occupy a place in the power battery market, are also actively enhancing market competitiveness.

At present, CATL focuses on prismatic batteries; Watma, Lishen and other main cylinders; AVIC Lithium, Wanxiang, Funeng and other main pouch batteries. The backers behind the three types of batteries are strong, and the fierce competition between the various types of batteries can be seen.

From the actual data, in 2016, the domestic cylindrical, soft pack, square lithium battery production was 13.92GWh, 22.99GWH, 26.64GWh, accounting for 21.9%, 36.2%, 41.9%, respectively, pouch battery market proportion has exceeded cylindrical, followed by square. In the case that prismatic batteries continue to occupy the largest share of the domestic lithium battery market, pouch batteries have accounted for the first growth rate of the market for two consecutive years.

Of course, the most critical obstacle stems from the end of the industrial chain - the 21700 battery has not yet been recognized by new energy vehicle companies.

Can be installed on the car is the production power of every battery company, the development of 21700 battery only by battery companies "shaving the head and picking a hot head" is difficult to achieve, the real money to buy the battery has the right to speak. However, as far as the information previously learned in the industry, car companies believe that the large-scale use of 21700 batteries remains to be seen.

Gaogong Lithium Power Grid has also previously learned about the situation from a number of vehicle company executives, and the feedback obtained is: Tesla Model 3 uses 21700 batteries and many domestic battery companies layout 21700 batteries, which has no impact on domestic vehicle companies, and car companies do not pay much attention to 21700 batteries.

In the 299th batch of announcements, the reason why Nanjing Golden Dragon pure electric transport vehicle uses 21700 batteries is also mainly due to customer designation.

The main reason for the indifference of car companies is that with the changes in domestic and foreign policies and markets, domestic vehicle companies are more cautious in introducing new types of batteries, and car companies will not rashly adopt new batteries before they are fully verified.

At the same time, changing the battery model means that the battery module, PACK, box and vehicle chassis need to be changed accordingly in terms of structural design, which will invisibly increase the burden on vehicle enterprises.

In the absence of scale effect and material system differences, the cost advantage of the domestic 21700 battery itself has not been reflected, coupled with the policy trend of subsidy decline, car companies are not willing to pay more, then who will pay for the extra cost will be a question worth pondering.

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