VinFast enters the race for automotive solid-state batteries

09 July 2022

solid state batteries

Vietnamese electric-vehicle (EV) manufacturer VinFast has announced a multi-million dollar investment in ProLogium, a global leading manufacturer in solid-state battery technology.

Central to this move is a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), setting out strategic cooperation arrangements with the Taiwanese energy-innovation company to secure next-generation solid-state battery (SSB) supplies.

The advent of SSBs is a potentially seismic one for EV development. The technology contains the potential to improve the safety, energy density, charging speed, recyclability, weight optimisation, costs, and longevity of batteries.

Cells from 2024

Integral to its future battery strategy, Vinfast states that the partnership with ProLogium, is focused on SSB research, development, and manufacturing. Plans are for ProLogium to provide solid-state battery cells from 2024 to support Vinfast’s next generation of EVs.

VinFast’s investment in solid-state battery technology is a significant move for the young carmaker. It is following in the footsteps of automotive giants like Mercedes-Benz, which also entered an agreement with ProLogium to develop solid-state batteries.

ProLogium’s first major solid state battery plant, which is slated to launch in early 2023, will devote a significant portion of its production capacity to supply VinFast. ProLogium and Vinfast also announced the possibility of establishing a joint-venture solid-state battery factory in Vietnam.

‘VinFast has focused on investing and building strategic partnerships with leading companies in the industry and breakthrough technology companies to quickly grasp and apply technologies for smart and sustainable mobility solutions,’ said Le Thi Thu Thuy, Vingroup vice chairwoman, and VinFast Global CEO. ‘ProLogium is one of our key partners, helping VinFast quickly master the supply of solid-state batteries while continuing to deliver EV products with advanced battery technology for a more enjoyable and safer driving experience.’

VinFast, part of VinGroup, recently announced the opening of over 50 sales locations across Europe for its VF8 and VF9 models. The move into the European automotive market is accompanied by plans  to build vehicles in Germany.

VinFast and VinGroup see investment in ProLogium as a road to securing a battery supply for its electric vehicles. Particularly, to ‘enhance control over the quantity and type of its battery supply to meet the needs of each VinFast EV line, and the market’s demands for high-tech, high-performance, safe, and environmentally friendly batteries.’ But why are solid-state batteries potentially so important in future EV development?

What is a solid-state battery and why build them?

Solid-state batteries do not contain the liquid electrolytes present in the conventional lithium-ion batteries widely used in EVs. These electrolytes move ions throughout the battery, and whilst the presence of liquid is key, it is also heavy.

This weight is an important factor for manufacturers electing to develop solid-state batteries. The aim of SSBs is to incorporate suitable materials that are porous enough to allow ions to move throughout the cell while being solid and hardy enough to withstand damage, and outlast the rigours of daily automotive use.

Solid-state batteries have a higher density than lithium-ion batteries, and can potentially increase energy-density per unit area, meaning fewer units are needed in the vehicle. The potential for battery fires is also removed, and subsequently, more space is available in an SSB-equipped vehicle for components to make the vehicle go further on a single charge.

Whilst this sounds like an automatic solution for some of the issues currently faced by EVs, the technology is still in its infancy. As well as finding suitable materials to replace the liquid, it costs roughly four-times more to develop a solid-state EV battery compared to currently widely used lithium-ion counterparts. However, this has not stopped a tranche of carmakers and startups throwing significant resources behind their development.

Earlier this year Nissan unveiled a prototype production facility for laminated all-solid-state battery (ASSB) cells at its research centre in Kanagawa, Japan. The carmaker stated its intention to bring the technology to market in 2028.

Last year Stellantis inked an agreement with US-based battery-maker Factorial Energy in a bid to co-develop batteries, whilst Dutch battery startup LionVolt increased its total funding to more than €5 million in 2021 in the quest to develop ‘the most efficient and sustainable solid-state, lithium-ion battery.’

Check out Autovista24’s video section for a lowdown on some of the key terminology in the automotive world. Look out for an explainer on solid state batteries, coming soon.