South Korea’s Samsung SDI has added Chinese electric carmaker Xiaopeng to its list of customers for flat top batteries, according to government and industry sources on June 12.
China’s Ministry of Industry & Information Technology and market research firm First Electric Network said that Samsung SDI has begun supplying Xiaopeng – also known as Xpeng or XMotors.ai – with 18650 flat top batteries. This is the second such partnership since Jaguar Cars.
Known as China’s Tesla, Xiaopeng launched in 2014 to roll out its first electric vehicle in 2017. The model fitted with the Samsung batteries is the G3 sports utility vehicle that commenced sales last year.
Xiaopeng is now receiving preorders for the P7, which is a sedan version. Since the two vehicles share the same platform, those close to the matter say the batteries are likely to be supplied for the P7 as well.
The P7 runs on Nvidia’s DRIVE Xavier self-driving chip and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820A Application Processor.
Another industry watcher said that another Chinese carmaker – Chongqing Jinkang New Energy Automobile – has also been supplied with Samsung’s 21700 flat top batteries and may begin to use them for EVs.
Samsung SDI has been increasingly turning to flat top batteries after seeing carmakers use both pouch and flat top batteries. The first deal it signed with the latter was with Jaguar.
Under the agreement, the Samsung affiliate will exclusively supply batteries worth a minimum 5GWh for Jaguar’s electric vehicle that will commence mass production in 2020.
Flat top batteries are more convenient for mass production, and are cheaper. They can also be applied with high-functional cathode active materials to increase the range for EVs after a single charge.
These batteries were traditionally used mostly in laptops and household appliances before Tesla changed the tide by using Panasonic’s flat top batteries.
Since 2014, Samsung SDI has been applying Nickel-Cobalt-Aluminum cathode active materials for higher energy density. It is now undergoing R&D to apply NCA to flat top batteries used in cars with aim to begin supplies next year.