SK Innovation will supply NCM 811 battery cells to BAIC

SK Innovation researchers hold up battery cells

After beating its Chinese competitors’ offers, the Korean battery cell maker SK Innovation won the supply contract with the Chinese automaker giant BAIC.

The NCM 811 batteries to be used by ARCFOX, a premium BEV brand of BAIC BJEV will be produced at SK Innovation’s battery cell plant in Changzhou, Jiangsu province, China.


The upcoming premium all-electric SUV ARCFOX α-T that’ll use these NCM 811 batteries is set to be released in the second half of the year with a driving range of 400-500 km. This is yet another Made in China alternative to the Tesla Model Y.




As you probably already know SK Innovation has been promising its NCM 811 battery cells since 2017 and postponed them a couple of times, but now it will finally be able to deliver what was expected a long time ago.


Now I’m curious about possible upcoming battery upgrades for the Korean automakers Hyunday and Kia that still use NCM 622 battery cells from SK Innovation and LG Chem.

The Kia e-Niro and Kia e-Soul that currently use NCM 622 battery cells from SK Innovation could get a battery upgrade to NCM 811 cells.

As for the Hyundai Kona Electric, it currently uses the same LGX E63 battery cells (NCM 622) that we find in the ZE 40 battery of the old generation Renault ZOE. With an upgrade to the NCM 712 battery cells from LG Chem – that are already in the new generation Renault ZOE -, the Kona Electric would get a 84 kWh (80 kWh usable) battery.


Anyway, an upgrade to more energy-dense battery cells doesn’t necessarily mean that it’ll be used to get more battery capacity. Kia and Hyundai might decide that the 64 kWh capacity they have today is more than enough. Therefore they could use the battery cell upgrade to keep the same capacity but with a smaller, lighter and cheaper battery pack.

I would prefer the last option. The Korean electric cars with their 64 kWh batteries already have a WLTP range above 400 km. For most people range is no longer the problem, price is. A lighter 64 kWh battery pack wouldn’t only be cheaper, it would also contribute for better range, better energy efficiency, better acceleration and better stopping distance.

What do you think? Is it time for the Korean automakers start using more energy-dense batteries not to improve range, but to reduce production costs instead?



More info:

Pedro Lima

My interest in electric transportation is mostly political. I’m tired of coups and wars for oil. My expectation is that the adoption of electric transportation will be a factor for peace and democracy all over the world.

17 Responses

  1. Giora says:

    The Kona WLTP range was improved recently from 449 km to 481 km (both numbers from memory), could it be that this was already achieved by using the NCM712?
    To your question: I am pro reducing production costs over increasing range of this car.

    • Pedro Lima says:

      That also crossed my mind. However Hyundai only mentions more efficient tires.

      In 2018 Hyundai had to downgrade the WLTP range of the Kona Electric from 470 to 449 km, now it’s up again to 484 km.

      A possible explanation is that the European-manufactured Hyundai Kona Electric got better efficiency and range, not only from more efficient tires, but also from a lighter battery pack made with NCM 712 battery cells.

      I need to find out if there is a weight reduction in the European-manufactured model.

  2. yoplai says:

    Range is perfect…
    Reduce price…

    Would love to see BYD’s blade batteries get thrown in cheap BEVs…

  3. Maximilian Holland says:

    I agree that the Kona and Niro’s 64 kWh usable is already enough for many folks, and passing on cost savings would be ideal.

    However, they could also offer a 80 kWh usable “LR” variant which should have the additional benefit of 25% faster charging speed – from ~76 kW to ~95 kW, assuming c-rates are similar.

    Best compromise for me would be to keep the 400-450 WLTP range and focus on higher C-rates: ideally recovering 2 hours of highway driving (or 5 days of average commute distance) in 20 minutes or under.

    • carlos says:

      Agreed. Range is more than good enough. Faster charging would be preferable. 2C would be sufficient, especially if it is sustained fully between 10-80%

    • Marcel says:

      I also agree that current size is good enough for a significant proportion of the market. I too would like faster charging rates, but I would also like to see lower cost EVs. I think there’s a diminishing return on increasing the range from this point on.

  4. MNMN says:

    I think, they should use the bigger battery pack in the bigger car.
    Kona is small for many people with children, the e-Niro is better, but as the size and the total weight (with the travellers and the their packs) of the vehicle grows, it would be nice to have bigger pack, to raise the range on the highways also.

  5. Freddy says:

    I would also go to the more competitive price car and leave higher packs (80kwh+) for D/E segments….

    But manufacturers have been escalating battery packs dearly (208e and zoe with already 50kwh)… they prefer to keep a higher sticker on the price..

    For 95% of my use, the 40kwh battery of my Leaf is enough… of course 60kwh would be better when travelling (my daily commute is around 50-70kms), but I would have not bought the car as I was aleady beyond my initial budget at 30K€…

    Just my 2 cents..

  6. Emilio says:

    I switched a from a Niro HEV for an e-soul and it is spectacular! It even feels bigger inside when it is not. I think thelat kia really nailed it with the powetrain so if they can improve the battery it is a win win. I think 64kwh does pretty well in EU. Maybe a bigger version would make sense in US / Australia

  7. Famlin says:

    Nice to see NCM 811 getting into market. This contains only 10% cobalt. Range of BEVs keeps increasing day by day.

    Daimler Benz pulls the plug (discontinues) work on fuel cell vehicles and will focus more on battery powered vehicles.

    • Anders says:

      I think Daimler just joined Volvo in a big investment for developing fuel cells for trucks, but maybe they have let it go for passenger cars?

  8. Lars says:

    I think they should do both. Use the new cells in the 64 kWh Version to make it lighter and introduce a new version with 80 kWh battery. When Volkswagen introduces the ID.3 with 45, 58 and 77 kWh battery Hyundai/Kia would be in a better position if they could match that with a 80 kWh battery, together with the 39 and 64 kWh batteries.

    • Tom Houlden says:

      I agree with everyone, including Pedro/Tesla: Offer a choice (cheap or roadtrip versions). That should help get more people to do the simple math to see which version they want for their 64km (40mi) daily drive that fully recharges from an extension cord in a std wall outlet while they sleep OR work. Roadtrip rentals should always be available, or just drive to the train station/airport & then rent when you arrive.

      • Tom Houlden says:

        PS. I would LOVE a kit to REDUCE my 500e range & drop weight for acceleration/cornering/braking! I’m lugging around twice the battery weight as I ever use!

  9. Alain says:

    Can’t we imagine a basic battery and the possibility of renting an extra battery for long trips (like, I think, the upcoming electric FIAT)?

    • Tom Houlden says:

      Yes, I imagined that 5 years ago but haven’t seen anything about it for the upcoming electric FIAT. The outgoing one offered free ICE rentals for long trips

    • Marcel says:

      yes, that would be cool to do, and it would give dealerships some recurring business. Something like a you can rent some self contained modules that drop into the trunk and there’s a connector in there to plug them into. Then again, you’d have to design it so a certified technician would hook the batteries up, as I don’t think you’d want to let car owners do the connecting of high voltage high power cables. Or have those cables accessible in the cabin.

      Oh wait, you wouldn’t hook those into the battery pack, because then those modules would have to match the voltage of the main battery, and that would require 88 or 96 cells, which makes it way to heavy for a human to lift into place. So this would have to be designed for rentable packs to connect to the car’s charging system, so they could sort of charge the main battery while the car is driving.

      Hmmm, now it’s starting to sound too complicated, haha. I should go do something productive…

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