Solid-state batteries are sort of like the fountain of youth or a genie in a lamp. They are supposed to be the next generation of batteries, enabling super long range, super fast charging, and superior safety at relatively low cost. The problem being: commercially competitive solid-state batteries are always just around the next mountain. Nonetheless, when news of new hop comes out, it’s hard to ignore it. The new hope this time is that VinFast/Vingroup has invested tens of millions of dollars into next-gen solid-state battery manufacturer ProLogium.
Does this mean that electric vehicles with solid-state batteries are on the way? Well, we’ll see. Until we have a clear arrival date, any hope for EVs powered by solid-state batteries has to be tempered.
The plan is as follows: “The two companies will enter into commercial agreements to develop battery pack designs using Prologium’s proprietary solid-state battery technology, adhering to strict specifications on the parameters, quality, and safety for VinFast.
“Under the strategic cooperation arrangements, ProLogium plans to provide solid-state battery cells to VinFast starting from 2024 to support its next generation line-up. ProLogium’s first major solid state battery plant, which is slated to launch in early 2023, will devote a significant portion of the facility’s production capacity to supply VinFast. In the future, ProLogium and VinFast may also establish a joint-venture solid-state battery factory in Vietnam.”
VinFast’s Rapid Global Expansion
VinFast is based out of Hanoi, Vietnam, but it also has offices in important EV markets in the USA, Canada, and Europe. The Vietnamese company just recently became a notable signal on our radar. It was founded in Vietnam in 2017, but it’s just in the past few months that it’s been making a lot of noise about its rather big plans. We first covered the company in June 2020, and then in March 2021 reported on plans for a US factory and California sales, which were confirmed later in October 2021. In 2022, there’s been an ongoing flow of news from the automaker and we’ve published 11 stories about it. That started off with the first deliveries to customers, in Vietnam, and then the company announcing VF 8 and VF 9 electric SUV prices at CES 2022 in Las Vegas.
VinFast has since signed an MoU with LeasePlan to offer vehicle leasing in Europe, announced a California roadshow, committed to a $2 billion to $4 billion factory in North Carolina, and announced US prices and battery subscription options. It has also entered Israel, and just last month VinFast unveiled its initial plans for European markets, which includes more than 50 VinFast stores across France, Germany, and the Netherlands.
VinFast & ProLogium Solid-State Batteries For The Win
With all of that groundwork laid, the solid-state battery dream is a notable technological path that seems important to VinFast’s success.
“VinFast has focused on investing and building strategics with leading companies in the industry and breakthrough technology companies to quickly grasp and apply technologies for smart and sustainable mobility solutions,” said Ms. Le Thi Thu Thuy, Vingroup Vice Chairwoman, and VinFast Global CEO. “ProLogium is one of our key partners, helping VinFast quickly master the supply of solid-state batteries while continuing to deliver EV products with advanced battery technology for a more enjoyable and safer driving experience.”
“ProLogium and VinFast will together unveil smart electric vehicles powered by our market leading next-generation solid-state battery technologies.” Mr. Vincent Yang, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of ProLogium Technology said. “We are a major innovator in battery technology with already proven manufacturing capabilities and we aim to become a main driver for a sustainable world through high performance, safe and affordable technologies. We share this vision with our new partner, and together we will become a powerful force to deliver a more enjoyable and safer driving experience.”
The company adds: “In 2021, Vingroup invested more than 4 trillion VND to construct the VinES battery factory in Vung Ang, Ha Tinh (Vietnam), on eight hectares of land that produces battery packs and battery cells for VinFast electric vehicles.”
Furthermore, VinFast is claiming a leading level of vehicle manufacturing capability. “VinFast owns a state-of-the-art automotive manufacturing complex with global leading scalability that boasts up to 90% automation.” That sounds impressive, but it also makes me nervous until VinFast shows it can truly mass produce vehicles there.
To close out this section, here’s VinFast’s pitch for the EV battery manufacturing chops of ProLogium: “ProLogium’s manufacturing competence has been well established since its first production line for consumer applications began operating in 2013, and has been further endorsed by a EV battery pilot line in October, 2017. The battery maker has established more than 4,000 quality control items in its production processes and achieved 99.9% yield for its single-layer cell manufacturing and 94% yield for multi-layer cells. These results lay a solid foundation for its first 3 GWh mass production plant. To date, ProLogium has shipped more than 7,300 EV cells with 50—60 Ah capacity to worldwide automotive partners for verification, and more than one million cells have been delivered to customers for consumer applications.”
Prototypes Are Easy …
They may get the job done and usher in a new era of electric cars (and buses, by the way) powered by next-generation solid-state batteries, or they may not. That is, so far, an unattainable target. Technology doesn’t stop advancing though. Whether they will achieve this target or not, VinFast and ProLogium appear to be companies to watch.
One final topic to emphasize, though, is that it is extremely hard to go from nothing to automobile mass production. Tesla CEO Elon Musk is fond of saying that prototypes are easy, while mass production is extremely difficult. Trying to get to mass production killed almost Tesla. Many other electric car startups seemed exciting and promising but crashed before ever getting off the ground, or just after getting off the ground. Some electric car startups in China have done well for themselves and are reaching levels of mass production that should make their future sound. However, they are the exception more than the rule. VinFast is leaping right into Europe and the United States before getting solid footing in its home footing, which seems dangerous, but if it succeeds, it’ll surely be a big EV startup success story.
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