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China's major EV battery maker geared up for US

By Lia Zhu in San Francisco | China Daily | Updated: 2016-05-13 12:13

Guoxuan High-Tech Co Ltd, a major Chinese electric vehicle (EV) battery manufacturer, is geared up to enter the US market with the help of its research and development center in the Silicon Valley.

Prompted by the country's focus on developing battery-powered cars, the Chinese company set up its first overseas R&D center in Fremont, California, near the assembly plant of Tesla, in July 2014 to take advantage of the region's innovative and cutting-edge science and technology.

The center, wholly funded by Guoxuan's subsidiary Hefei Guoxuan High-Tech Power Energy Co Ltd, has a multinational research team of 15 engineers, who previously worked for major original equipment manufacturers and EV-related companies worldwide.

Tasked to develop battery manages system (BMS), power train and vehicle control at three stages, Gotion is expected to deliver the first BMS sample to Chinese customers in the second quarter of 2016, and the new models equipped with Gotion's BMS are expected to hit the Chinese market by the end of this year, said Jason Yan, Gotion's business development manager.

In February, Gotion was also tasked to market one of Guoxuan's major products - the lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) battery, also known as the LFP battery, which is a type of lithium-ion rechargeable battery for high power applications, such as EV.

Though its energy density is lower than the nickel-cobalt manganese (NCM) battery which is used by Tesla, the LFP cells feature high discharging current, non-explosive and long-cycle life, and are cost-effective when considering their long lifetimes, according to Yan.

"The most important advance of the LFP battery is its thermal and chemical stability, which means it's safer than other lithium-ion cells and the NCM version," he said. "It can find a number of roles in vehicle use, such as electric bus, electric truck and neighborhood electric vehicle, as well as in energy storage."

Yan said the US did not have strong LFP battery makers and most of the LFP products were imported from Japan and South Korea. "In terms of technology, our products are as good as Samsung, Panasonic or LG; in terms of price, ours are very competitive," he said.

Gotion has targeted more than 30 EV-related companies as potential customers. It has signed a strategic partnership with a California-based solar energy company.

"The company has put us at the top of their priory list to purchase Guoxuan's cells for energy storage," said Yan. "They made the decision after a tour of Guoxuan."

To support the production of LFP cells, Guoxuan launched a new cathode material plant in Hefei city, Anhui province, in February 2015 with an investment of $767.8 million. On completion in five years, the plant is expected to produce 5 tons of cathode material for LFP batteries a year.

The first phase of the project has achieved the targeted output of 3,000 tons in October 2015 and the second phase, which started early 2016, is expected to produce another 3,000 tons.

China, the world's largest new-car market, has seen EV sales jump to 331,000 units in 2015, nearly threefold. It aims to bring around 5 million EVs on the streets by 2020.

China's major EV battery maker geared up for US

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