Some say the Chinese have the brightest minds in the world, an impressively high level of technological achievements (even though some are done by copying others), and that Russian things are ultimately the ones built to last. What could be better for the EV industry than the world’s largest lithium ion battery factory built in Russia, with Chinese expertise? And, of course, in Siberia!
Quickly and efficiently (just nine months), the Russian-Chinese joint venture between state-owned RUSNANO and Thunder Sky on the Chinese side, built the factory near the city of Novosibirsk, as a part of a project worth more than 13.5 billion rubles ($430 million) and inaugurated it with a ceremony.
The plant, called Liotech, will be able to produce LiFePO4 batteries of different capacities, ranging from 200 Ah to 700 Ah, using environmentally-friendly technologies. The batteries will feature a novel nanostructured cathode technology and will have a warranty of eight years or 600,000 kilometers.
Electric buses will be the first to benefit the Liotech batteries, and the factory will be able to face huge loads, having a capacity of 1 million batteries per year. Each bus will travel some 300 kilometers per charge and will be able to charge up to 70 percent in just 20 minutes.
“Implementation of public electric transport equipped with our lithium-ion batteries will significantly improve the environment in large cities in Russia. Use of the batteries in combination with alternative sources of energy will promote the development of ‘green technology’ and increase the energy efficiency of the Russian economy.
We are already seeing interest in our storage batteries from Russian Railways, the Moscow Metro, electric power networks and power generating companies, businesses in the military industrial complex, the public utilities sector, and telecommunications companies,” said Liotech CEO Alexander Erokhin.
After their time in EVs will have expired, the Liotech batteries will find themselves a home in power stabilization applications for another 10 to 15 years.
While the U.S. is engaging in the now famous solar power trade war with China, the Russians open up strategic factories that hit where it hurts most: renewable energy. So, don’t be surprised if in a few years, GM or Toyota will import their quality EV batteries from the Russians in Siberia at ultra-low prices and will build them in China. Sometimes it’s just not about who the winner is, and the people involved in such trade wars should understand that and put it above their immediate interests.
I’m sure nobody (even the Americans) builds EVs or makes solar panels just for the sake of clean air, there are always some financial reasons in the middle of every business. However, it’s started raining dollars in this sector and it looks like scientists from around the globe aren’t going to wait MIT researchers or Solyndra, A123 or others to be the only ones who build stuff that’s good to both the environment and our pockets.
We live turbulent times, but the waters will eventually calm down in a few decades or so, as battery-powered vehicles will be become mainstream technology that everyone will own and use.