JAC Motors, a Volkswagen-backed Chinese automaker, plans to build the world’s first mass-produced electric vehicle using a sodium-ion battery under the Yiwei brand. The battery technology, less dense than lithium-ion, offers lower costs, more abundant sources, and better cold-weather performance, with delivery expected in January.
Yiwei is a new brand for JAC in 2023. Volkswagen owns a 75% share (and management control) in JAC, as well as 50% of JAC’s parent business, Anhui Jianghuai Automobile Group Holdings (JAG). The Chinese government owns the other half of JAG, making it one of the odder pairings in the auto industry.
The Yiwei EV appears to be a renamed version of the earlier-announced Sehol E10X hatchback (above). The Sehol model has a 252 km (157 mile) range, a 25 kWh capacity, a 120 Wh / kg energy density, 3C to 4C charging, and a HiNa NaCR32140 cell, according to CarNewsChina. When JAC unveiled the Yiwei brand in May, it stated that it would discontinue the Sehol label and rebrand all of its vehicles as JAC or Yiwei, paving the way for this week’s EV presentation. JAC has yet to confirm if the Yiwei-branded device will retain the E10X designation.
At the Shanghai Auto Show in April, JAC displayed a separate EV named the Yiwei 3. That model was released in June with an LFP lithium battery, with the promise of a sodium-ion variant coming later.
HiNA Battery cylindrical sodium-ion cells are said to be used in the upcoming Yiwei EV. JAC builds the batteries in its modular UE (Unitized Encapsulation) honeycomb structure, which is akin to CATL’s CTP (cell-to-pack) and BYD’s Blade. The arrangement can improve stability and performance.