Text/Eastern Yiluo

China’s new energy vehicles began to flow to the market on a large scale in 2013, and entered an explosive growth phase in 2014. The battery life of new energy vehicles is generally about 5 to 8 years. According to this calculation, the tide of battery replacement is coming this year. However, an embarrassing situation faced by many car owners is that it costs tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands to change a new energy vehicle battery, which is really uneconomical. Instead of laboriously changing the battery, it is better to buy a new car.

Battery problems have always existed in the new energy vehicle industry, but they become more prominent when the peak time for battery replacement comes. In recent years, Chinese new energy car companies have also given some solutions to the battery problem, and Tesla’s new battery technology to be launched on the”Battery Day” on September 22 may be able to fundamentally solve this problem.

Judging from the current status of new energy vehicle batteries and the known news, Tesla’s plan to release the”big move” is absolutely extraordinary, which is very important for the new energy vehicle industry. Tesla itself can play a positive role in promoting, but it is not necessarily a good thing for China’s new car-building forces, because this may mean that Tesla will once again leave Chinese car companies behind, making Chinese car companies It is more difficult to catch up with Tesla.

First, the battery problem is not unsolvable at this stage, but Tesla’s plan is unique

High price, long charging time, and short cruising range are common problems in the batteries of new energy electric vehicles. Coupled with the impact of the subsidy decline, the production and sales of new energy vehicles in China fell by more than 30%in the first seven months of this year, so the”swap mode” came into being.

The so-called”replacement” refers to centralized charging stations for centralized charging, centralized storage, and unified distribution of batteries. For modern people who are currently in a fast pace, time is very precious, and the battery swap mode can effectively save time and improve the charging efficiency of new energy vehicles. Nowadays, the mode of”separation of car and electricity, sub-tank replacement” is usually adopted to standardize the battery sub-tank, improve the safety of the charging environment, and to a certain extent solve the problem of battery loss and attenuation caused by the fast charging mode.

Some people in the industry pointed out that the battery swap model is expected to become a new driving force for the second take-off of China’s new energy automobile industry. Many companies have also keenly sensed the business opportunities and moved on. Since July this year, some car companies and service providers have jointly established the”Power Swap Alliance”, and some are preparing to build power swap stations with partners.

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For example, Weilai Automobile and Ningde Times etc. The enterprises jointly invested in the establishment of the”Wuhan Nineng Battery Assets Company” with a registered capital of 800 million yuan. Through the company, NIO released a battery rental service, providing comprehensive services such as separation of car and electricity, battery rental, rechargeable, exchangeable and upgradeable services.

The BAIC Group and State Grid Electric Vehicle Service Co., Ltd. signed a framework agreement to deepen strategic cooperation. It plans to cooperate in the construction of 100 replacement power stations by the end of June next year. The”Jinan No. 1 Swap Station” has been officially put into operation.

Other car companies will use free replacement batteries, batteries lifetime warranty, etc. Ways to solve the defects of new energy vehicle batteries. For example, BYD’s new energy vehicle’s core component warranty is 8 years or 150,000 kilometers, while the battery cell is a lifetime warranty. If the power battery is weak to 20%, you can apply for free replacement.

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But whether it’s building a substation or a battery A lifetime warranty is not a perfect solution.

The construction of the replacement station requires a huge cost and a lot of time. As of July this year, there were only 457 swap stations in the country, which is significantly lower than the millions of charging piles in the country. Moreover, the distribution of various provinces and cities is very uneven, and the gap in power swap infrastructure is large, and it takes a long time to fill. .

And the battery life-time warranty, only the battery failure or the battery defect, the normal attenuation of the battery is not included in the warranty, and the battery replacement is actually There is no fundamental solution to the problem. Of course, the battery can be replaced all the time, but the best way is to improve the performance and battery life of the battery. This is something Chinese new energy car companies cannot do.

However, the fact that China’s new energy car companies cannot do it does not mean that other countries’ new energy car companies cannot do it. No, Tesla intends to launch several new energy vehicle batteries on the”Battery Day” on September 22. They have outstanding advantages compared with the commonly used new energy vehicle batteries. In the battery, we can also feel that Tesla’s solution to the battery problem is different from that of Chinese car companies.

Second, Tesla’s”enlargement”, new technologies may break the industry bottleneck

This Battery Day will be held at Tesla’s California plant. This is the first time Tesla has held a press conference specifically for battery technology. Musk even called it”the most important thing in Tesla’s history. Event”, this battery day is also regarded as a popular event similar to the Apple conference.

So on this battery day, what”big tricks” we might see Tesla release?

One of them is the”Million Mile Battery” that has been passed around for almost a year. The emergence of this kind of battery will break the convention of”the life cycle of electric vehicle batteries is not long and needs to be recycled”. Before that, Tesla’s battery supplier Ningde Times had announced the development of 1.24 million miles of batteries, and Tesla planned to launch a battery with a battery life of 1.6 million miles. With the previous foundation, this technology It is indeed possible to make an appearance on this battery day.

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In a million-mile battery,”single crystal cathode” Indispensable. Because it can keep 90%of the battery capacity at a normal level after 4000 charge-discharge cycles, while the current batteries on the market generally can only maintain about 1000 charge-discharge cycles. In addition, the current average cruising range of the Tesla battery pack has reached 300 kilometers, and the loss in the process will not exceed 10%. So Tesla already has a good foundation in terms of batteries. If millions of miles of batteries are put into use, Tesla will have a greater advantage.

Another”silicon nanowire” technology is also important for million-mile batteries, because it has a huge impact on energy density, thereby reducing the weight of the battery by half. The occupied space is only half of the current popular lithium-ion battery, and it can also be used for Tesla’s general use in electric vehicles. The 250Wh/kg density battery is upgraded to 400Wh/kg energy density, thereby subverting the rules of the game in the entire industry.

In addition, the 1.2 million miles of batteries announced by CATL in June this year involves the shift from lithium-ion batteries to Lithium iron phosphate battery technology. The biggest feature of lithium iron phosphate batteries is that they do not use cobalt. Cobalt is a rare earth mineral. The global terrestrial cobalt resources reserves are about 7 million tons, of which Congo (DRC) reserves account for 52%and Australia reserves 17%. Cuba’s reserves account for 7%, while other countries’ reserves are negligibly low. This has led to a shortage of cobalt and has become the main reason for the current high prices of new energy vehicle batteries.

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With lithium iron phosphate, the production cost is lower. Durability is stronger. Therefore, the emergence of lithium iron phosphate batteries means that the price of new energy vehicle batteries is expected to drop a lot, and the CATL is very focused on applying this technology to the Chinese market first, which means that the price of domestic Tesla models will have more room for price reduction. Big, the battery life will be stronger.

It can be seen that Tesla’s battery solutions are fundamentally different from Chinese car companies. Chinese car companies focus on”service”, whether it is replacing power stations or lifetime warranty, which is essentially”a temporary solution, not a permanent cure.” Tesla has introduced a new type of battery with lighter weight, smaller footprint, and stronger battery life, subverting the original”rules” in the battery field limited by technology, and providing the industry with an ultimate solution.

This will undoubtedly play a huge role in the development of the new energy automobile industry. After all, battery technology has always been a bottleneck restricting the development of the industry. Once a breakthrough is made, the new energy automobile industry It must be taken to the next level.

For Tesla itself, breakthroughs in battery technology can also save the recent severe decline in stock prices. Tesla’s share price has plummeted by more than 21%in recent days, mainly because Tesla failed to be included in the S&P 500 index as most analysts and investors expected. However, if there is support from new energy vehicle battery technology, it is estimated that capital will regain confidence in Tesla, and the boost to its stock price may also help.

Tesla’s battery technology will benefit the industry and itself, but for Chinese car companies, such progress may not be a good thing.

Third, Tesla is a big step, or it will distance itself from Chinese car companies again

Among the many companies of China’s new car-making forces, Ideal, Weilai, and Xiaopeng are the most representative. The first two have successfully listed in the United States, and Xiaopeng Motors is also on the way to market. Some time ago, Li Xiang, the founder of Ideal Auto, issued a sentence:”The three companies add up to surpass Tesla. This is our goal for next year”, and Aite has Weilai CEO Li Bin and Xiaopeng Automobile CEOHe Xiaopeng. In response, Li Bin replied”Continue to power up!” He Xiaopeng replied:”Li Bin and Li want to power up together to make better products and go global.”

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This shows that Chinese car companies and Tesla Highly determined, but it also shows from the side that the sales of Chinese car companies are far less than Tesla. After all, according to Li Xiang, the three companies have a chance to compete with Tesla.

In terms of research and development, there is also a big gap between Chinese car companies and Tesla.

In the first quarter of this year, Tesla’s R&D expenses totaled 2.26 billion yuan, while Ideal, Weilai, and Xiaopeng’s R&D expenses were 190 million, 520 million and 310 million, which add up to 1.02 billion, are only 45%of Tesla.

Although R&D requires good ideas, funding is also essential. New energy vehicles as a whole are still in the initial stage of development, so which manufacturer invests more in research and development will basically be able to grasp enough voice in the future. In 2019, Tesla has invested 9.3 billion yuan in research and development, while the investment of new Chinese auto companies is far less than Tesla.

This is not because Chinese car companies do not realize the importance of R&D investment, but because they are really short of money. Even if they have been among the first echelon of China’s new energy automobile industry, these companies have been losing money. And the most effective solution at this stage is probably to increase sales and make money by selling cars. This is certainly not a long-term solution, but the purpose of losing money is to gain brand awareness and find ways to make more money, so that it is possible to continuously improve products, increase sales, and then use sales to share costs to achieve profitability.

However, Tesla has developed to the extent that it can carry out a”dimension reduction crackdown” on Chinese car companies at the technical level. While China’s new car-making forces are still wondering how to surpass Tesla and how to increase sales, Tesla has been able to provide solutions to the battery problems that have plagued the industry for many years.

Although the enthusiasm of Chinese car companies to catch up with Tesla is currently high, the gap that exists cannot be made up by determination and enthusiasm alone. Especially at the peak of battery replacement for new energy vehicles, Tesla has launched another battery day. I am afraid that it will push Chinese car companies further and widen the already large gap. As a result, it will be even more difficult for Chinese car companies to catch up with Tesla in the future.