(Bloomberg) -- Chinese electric carmaker Anhui Jianghuai Automobile Group Corp. is experimenting with short-range sodium-ion batteries for its vehicles as a cheaper alternative to lithium cells, according to a statement Thursday.
State-backed JAC, as the automaker is better known, has turned to HiNa Battery Technologies Co. for the cells. HiNa was founded in 2017 and focuses specifically on sodium-ion batteries, which have a lower energy density than lithium-ion batteries but which are generally considered safer because they’re nonflammable and less susceptible to temperature changes.
The pair unveiled a demonstration car powered by one of HiNa’s batteries at an industry conference Thursday in China’s Jiangsu province. They said the range was about 250 kilometers (155 miles) per charge.
Read more: CATL Debuts Sodium-Ion Batteries Amid Raw Material Cost Rise
Battery giant Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Ltd. is among the better-funded players racing to create a new generation of lower-density cells that use cheaper raw materials — like salt — than lithium-ion cells, in a push to mass produce a wider range of more affordable green cars.
High lithium prices have spurred the development of sodium-ion cells even though lithium carbonate has weakened by around 30% from its November peak.
HiNa’s batteries still require certification and regulatory approval. JAC is more synonymous with commercial vehicles although it also has a joint venture with Volkswagen AG.
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