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Are sodium-ion batteries an electric vehicle breakthrough?

There’s now little doubt that Australian motorists are increasingly saying “yes” to electric vehicles, with 7.2 per cent of new car buyers choosing them in 2023. That’s twice 2022’s sales, according to figures from the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI). Buyers are responding to a growing range of attractive electric vehicles, government incentives that have made novated leasing an EV very attractive, and falling prices.

Those prices are now starting at around $39,000 for models such as the BYD Dolphin, MG4, and GWM Ora. They’re now competitive with higher spec small petrol vehicles on price alone, and a very compelling proposition, thanks to their lower running costs.

But despite that, there’s no getting around the fact that they’re still more expensive to buy up front than many competing petrol or diesel vehicles. The reason for that is those expensive lithium batteries, which make up 40-60% of the vehicle’s cost. That precious lithium is in scarce supply around the world, with the race on to discover new reserves, and develop new mines. But car makers and battery technology developers are also working to develop alternatives, in the form of sodium ion batteries.

Cheap, Abundant Sodium

Unlike lithium, sodium is extremely abundant and available all over the planet, making it inherently cheaper. But the advantages of sodium-ion batteries don’t end there, because they’re also non-flammable and charge faster than conventional lithium batteries. But it’s not all upside, because up till now sodium batteries don’t have the same energy density as lithium. But that gap is closing. Energy densities in sodium batteries range from 75-160 Wh/kg, compared to lithium-ion, which ranges from 120-260Wh/kg.

There are several companies developing the technology around the globe, and at least one has an Australian connection.

KPIT Technologies is an Indian company that’s been developing sodium-ion batteries for the last eight years. It now has a battery ready to undergo trials with vehicle manufacturers, after which it’s expected to go into production.

Another sodium-ion battery innovator is the Indian-owned Faradion, which has patents for several key battery components. Faradion’s Australian joint-venture partner is Nation Energie, which is manufacturing storage batteries. Faradion’s next generation battery is aiming for 190Wh per kg.


As world leaders in EV battery technology, it comes as no surprise that China’s CATL is also moving quickly to develop a sodium-ion battery. It will initially find its way into a Chery Auto vehicle. Fellow Chinese maker JAC, which is backed by VW, is also poised to release its first sodium-ion battery vehicle. It has a claimed range of 252km from a battery with 120Wh/kg energy density.

Sweden’s Northvolt, too, is developing batteries without the critical minerals lithium, cobalt, graphite, or nickel. It uses two of the most abundant minerals on earth ─ sodium and iron ─ as raw materials. It claims its batteries have a radically reduced carbon footprint of 10-20kg of CO2 per kWh. That compares to 100-150kg of CO2 per kWh for the equivalent lithium batteries. Northvolt’s battery also challenges China’s current dominance of lithium battery supply chains.

There’s little doubt we’ll be seeing vehicles with sodium-ion batteries on our roads soon enough, as well as solid state batteries, meeting the increasing demands of consumers, and the imperative of reducing carbon emissions.

But if you just can’t wait, and you want to get your hands on a new EV right now, then ring Fleetcare today on 134 333 for a chat about a novated lease that’s going to save you money, while it’s helping to save the planet.

Written by
Mark Schneider

Mark is a successful copywriter with over 20 years of professional writing experience.

We welcome him as a guest blogger to Fleettorque.

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