NIO reportedly mulling joint venture with SVOLT to get large cylindrical batteries over finish line

A Chinese media outlet is reporting that EV automaker NIO is recruiting the help of battery systems manufacturer, SVOLT Energy Technology Co., Ltd. Several sources state that NIO is recruiting the assistance from SVOLT to assist in the development of its own in-house large cylindrical EV batteries, which has reportedly decelerated as of late.

It’s interesting to hear that NIO may be struggling in the development of its large cylindrical batteries, because in many ways it has become one of the leaders in EV innovation in China… and possibly cell phones now, too?

A few months after that phone announcement in the spring of 2022, NIO founder, chairman, and CEO William Li shared plans for the company to begin developing its own batteries – more specifically, large cylindrical cells designed for an 800V EV platform targeting production in 2024.

At the time, Li said NIO has a team of around 400 in place to research, develop, and scale battery manufacturing, but it appears to have hit a snag. Meanwhile, SVOLT Energy, which exists as a battery division of fellow Chinese automaker Great Wall Motor, has been pushing battery chemistry and cell design to new levels overseas.

According to a new report, NIO is enlisting SVOLT’s expertise in batteries so the two can jointly develop the former’s in-house cells.

NIO batteries
SVOLT Energy’s Dragon Armor battery pack, on display at the 2023 Shanghai Auto Show / Credit: SVOLT

NIO and SVOLT exploring pilot line to build EV batteries

The report comes from 36kr out of China, which states that several people in the industry close to the matter are saying NIO is on the cusp of announcing a joint venture with SVOLT Energy to co-develop large cylindrical batteries.

In initial plan being reported is for both NIO and SVOLT to jointly invest in a pilot production line Maanshan, Anhui province – the same province as NIO’s current manufacturing hub in Hefei. Sources closes to the matter say NIO and SVOLT will merge some of their R&D teams, but their supply chains and manufacturing will remain separate.

One individual source told 36kr that the goal of the joint venture is to explore a pilot production line for NIO EV batteries, with scaled production now expected to commence in 2025. Additional verification and development is expected after the reported pilot line begins operations, hence the delay in reaching scale.

Neither NIO nor SVOLT have confirmed these reports yet.

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