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Battery technology will determine race for electric cars

Only when fast-charging batteries along with a nationwide system of charging stations will electric cars become popular in Vietnam.

 

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In early 2018, a company in Hanoi went to the US to learn about a model of electric cars - Tesla Model 3 - for distributing in Vietnam. With a starting price of $35,000 per car, plus 70% import tax, 15% special consumption tax and 10% value added tax, the price for a car is estimated to be around VND2 billion (nearly $100,000).

This price was not much higher than some imported luxury cars using gasoline. However, after consideration, this distributor decided to not import this type of car because technology was limited and the infrastructure for electric cars in Vietnam was underdeveloped.

In 2017, Mai Linh Group planned to develop electric taxis in big cities. However, this plan failed because of a simple reason: there were no charging stations for electric taxis. Moreover, what would happen if the electric taxi had to stop for at least 30 minutes for charging? In general, electric cars seem to be as inconvenient as cars using gasoline

The current electric vehicle market has witnessed significant progress compared to 2-3 years ago. VinFast has received orders for its first electric car model, which is expected to be handed over in November 2021. Some other firms have imported electric cars for distribution. The prices of these cars are similar to gasoline-fueled cars in the same segment.

In some cities, there are also a few charging stations for electric vehicles, where electric cars can be quickly charged within 25 minutes to have power enough for traveling 200 km. In the near future, many fast-charging stations will be built across the country, with a charging time of 15 minutes, for traveling nearly 200 km. However, that is not enough for the development of electric vehicles.

When will gasoline-fueled cars replaced by electric vehicles?

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In the world, consumers only buy electric cars with batteries useful for a distance of 400km, with fast charging times and cheap prices.

According to automotive expert Nguyen Minh Dong, one of the most important components of an electric car is the battery.

Currently, all electric vehicles use lithium battery technology, also known as liquid batteries. The power capacity of this battery has reached its limit with 150 Wh/kg. To increase the capacity, the volume of the battery will be large, resulted in high costs and poor performance.

For example, the Tesla Model S can travel 413km on a single charge, but the 85kWh battery costs up to $17,000, accounting for nearly half of the car's value.

Moreover, the risks of causing fire or explosion of liquid batteries is very high. Slow charging takes time, while fast charging is more likely to lead to the risk of fire. This poses an urgent need to develop a new battery generation.

Many people believe that the future of electric vehicles is solid-state batteries. Solid-state battery technology uses solid electrolytes, replacing liquid electrolytes. It is possible to make batteries that are smaller in size with a greater capacity. Solid state batteries are also safer for users because they do not contain toxic, flammable liquids and have a longer lifespan. In particular, this type of battery also has a faster charging speed.

However, solid-state battery technology is still under research and development and production costs are high.

Toyota (Japan) has invested $13.9 billion in research and development of solid-state batteries. Toyota tested its first model of car using solid-state battery in late 2019. Samsung (South Korea) has created a solid-state battery model, which allows an electric car to travel up to 800km for one charge and the battery a lifespan of more than 1,000 times of charging. ProLogium (Taiwan) is testing new battery technology and is expected to be put into operation in 2023. In Vietnam, VinFast has cooperated with ProLogium to manufacture solid-state batteries.

It is said that electric cars using solid state batteries will appear on the market from 2025.

However, after a good battery, an equally important requirement is the charging station. Gasoline cars can be refueled at tens of thousands of petrol stations across the country, but for electric cars, there are no viable charging system in Vietnam in the near future. Electric vehicle manufacturers have committed and endeavored to develop charging station systems. However, the establishment of tens of thousands of charging stations across the country is not easy and can be beyond the capacity of a single firm.

Tran Thuy

When will Vietnam begin to make electric cars?

When will Vietnam begin to make electric cars?

On March 24, Vinfast made headlines after releasing its statement about receiving orders for its first electric car model VF e34 for VND690 million (about $32,000), to be delivered in the third quarter of 2021. 

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