On November 14, Zhu Huarong, chairman of Changan Automobile, announced that Changan Automobile will jointly build a new high-end smart car brand with Huawei and CATL. The brand's high-end smart products will also be launched soon.
The high-end smart car brand jointly created by the three parties this time includes a leading, autonomous and controllable smart electric car platform, a series of smart car products and a super "people-car family" smart life and smart energy ecology.
CATL is not truly self-manufactured EVs. This cooperation is about battery companies' deep involvement in EV research and development, and the synergy and parallelization of battery and EV development to achieve better matching of batteries and EVs and improve performance (such as battery life, safety, and fast charging) , cost reduction and deeper exploration in the direction of intelligence.
CATL's participation in Changan Automobile's "car-making" will have many impacts. Here we only take a few points for a brief analysis.
Security: From protecting the safety of personnel to protecting property
Safety is undoubtedly still the biggest pain point of EV. The frequent occurrence of EV spontaneous combustion incidents at home and abroad mostly points to the battery. For EVs to be safe, both EVs need to have a good understanding of batteries, and they also need to have a deep understanding of EVs. Battery companies are involved, and it is expected that strategies and designs to improve safety can be proposed from multiple aspects.
When it comes to safety, the industry still stays at the level of personnel safety when discussing battery and vehicle safety. For example, the "Safety Requirements for Power Batteries for Electric Vehicles" proposes thermal runaway, thermal diffusion, and a 5-minute warning before the safety of the passenger compartment. Allow sufficient time for personnel to escape.
But the more realistic problem is that when people escape successfully, vehicles are often burned into a pile of scrap iron in the raging fire, and vehicle properties are reduced to zero, and vehicles or objects parked around may also be damaged, eventually causing joint property losses.
“The safety of batteries in the future must shift from protecting personnel safety to protecting property safety. Some of our partners, such as Changan New Energy and CATL, are doing a lot of work based on electrochemistry.” said Deng Chenghao, deputy general manager of Changan New Energy Power Development Department. Cell electrochemical safety, battery assembly integrated safety protection, big data monitoring, multi-pronged, the pure electric platform battery assembly under development will completely achieve no fire and no explosion.
In the high-end smart EV brand jointly created with Changan Automobile, CATL expects to have greater initiative to experiment in battery and EV safety design, and then can continue to carry out in-depth innovations in safety technology, from battery materials to systems to EVs. There will be a series of safety attempts to further explore the "only smoke, no fire" related technology to be more mature and reliable.
Cost: Use high integration to explore cost reduction space
Cost is undoubtedly the second barrier that restricts the large-scale application of EVs. At present, the focus of EV cost reduction is still in the battery link, and battery system integration, or even EV integration, will provide a broader space for cost reduction.
On the 100kWh battery pack cooperating with NIO, CATL researched and developed in cooperation with NIO. The PACK adopts a highly integrated CTP process, which reduces parts by 40%, increases the volume utilization rate by 19.8%, and significantly improves the overall charge of the battery pack. The reduction of parts and the improvement of space utilization are very obvious for reducing costs. However, on the road of reducing costs, there are more links that can continue to be reduced through integration.
Lin Yongshou, president of CATL's passenger car solutions department, believes that highly integrated technology is an inevitable trend in the development of battery systems. Not only will the volume become smaller, the functions will become more, and the key cost prices will also become lower.
As a OEM, according to Deng Chenghao, Changan New Energy’s future plan is to promote “de-assembly”, innovate production processes, and break through key technologies of CTV (Cell to Vehicle) and MTV (Module to Vehicle). This route is different from the current CTP advocated by CATL.
For CATL, as the power battery side, it has not been involved in EV manufacturing, so it is still somewhat difficult to make CTV and MTV. However, in terms of high integration, CATL has also seen the trend of battery and EV integration in the future, and proposed CTC (Cell to Chassis) this year. This point should have many similarities with the CTV planned by Changan New Energy, and it may even be true.
According to CATL's plan, it will launch CTC technology applications around 2025, when the battery system energy density can be increased to 250+Wh/kg, the volume utilization rate can be increased to 70%, and the EV cruising range is also expected to exceed 1,000km. CATL estimates that the future CTC technology is expected to help EVs save a lot of wiring harnesses, connectors, cooling systems and cabinet structures, and the cost of power systems is expected to be reduced by more than 20% compared with traditional PACK designs.
According to Lin Yongshou, CATL’s CTC development is divided into three steps. The first step is to integrate the chassis. The battery core and the chassis are initially integrated. At the same time, the motor, electronic control, and vehicle high voltage such as DC/DC, OBC, etc. The architecture is also integrated; the second step is called an intelligent chassis; the third step is called an automatic chassis, and automatic driving is an inevitable trend of development, so the concept of automatic chassis is proposed.
As a leading domestic and even global power battery company, CATL has no doubts about its innovative strength in the field of power battery technology. The proposal of integrated technologies such as CTC can also be said to be very forward-looking, but for a battery company, it is necessary to integrate batteries into EVs, or As far as the current CTP is concerned, there is more in-depth integration with the EV factory, and it is bound to be deeply involved in the development and design of the EV system.
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