Dongfeng Announces First Car With Solid-State Cells But Fails to Give More Info About It

Dongfeng is practically unknown outside of China and some other markets in which it sells its cars. Despite that, the Chinese automaker may become world-famous after announcing it released the first electric cars with solid-state batteries. For such an accomplishment, the company chose a vehicle presented in 2011 and was pretty laconic about its cells.
Dongfeng Fengshen E70 fleet allegedly with solid-state cells is delivered in Xinyu 6 photos
Photo: Dongfeng
Dongfeng Fengshen E70 fleet allegedly with solid-state cells is delivered in XinyuDongfeng Fengshen E70 fleet allegedly with solid-state cells is delivered in XinyuGanfeng Lithium's plant in Xinyu, Jiangxi, ChinaGanfeng Lithium's R&D headquartersCell production at Ganfeng Lithium's plant
In a Weibo post, the company said it delivered the first batch of 50 Fengshen E70 units on January 22 in Xinyu, a city in the Jiangxi province. Weirdly, Dongfeng noted that these 50 cars would also operate in Zheijang, Jiangsu, and in a city, Guangzhou, which are pretty distant from each other. If the company is talking about a first batch, each of these locations could receive a similar amount of cars. Otherwise, it will be a limited test fleet.

According to Dongfeng, the solid-state batteries were developed in a partnership with Ganfeng Lithium. However, it did not release any information about what makes them unique, such as energy density, weight, chemistry, if they use lithium metal, sulfides, or any other solution.

According to CNEVPost, the batteries use what Ganfeng calls a solid-state flexible diaphragm technology, but we have no idea what that means. Ganfeng said in December it had developed a first-generation solid-state cell with this diaphragm. It also had oxide electrolyte and graphite in the anode. It is unclear whether the 50 demonstration EVs use these cells or something better.

In its Weibo post, the company probably thought it would be enough to say it has “the world's first solid-state battery vehicle demonstration operation project.” We would be happier with more information to even believe that these cars really have such revolutionary technology.

Something else that makes us scratch our heads is why Dongfeng chose such an old vehicle for the tests. The E70 derives from the Fengshen A60 presented in 2011. Would that be because the E70 is considered a reliable vehicle after more than ten years in production? Would it be to have a discreet car that no one will care about and competitors will have difficulties identifying? We have no idea.

What we do know is that Dongfeng competitors would certainly have selected a more recent vehicle for the tests or even created one specifically to present the tech. Picking taxi drivers to evaluate the new cells makes perfect sense, though. These professionals are the ones who want reliable vehicles and who drive them for as much as possible. If any issue is to emerge, it will be in their hands.

To make their lives easier, these vehicles can swap their battery packs. That means each of these vehicles has at least one other battery pack with solid-state cells available. Otherwise, the tests would not make any sense.

We have tried to contact Dongfeng and Ganfeng Lithium to learn more about the vehicles and their batteries. However, Chinese companies are as unreachable as Tesla – perhaps a bit less since we can still hope that they will answer. Dongfeng would have said that a production version of these cells will be available by 2023, and we want to confirm that. Wish us luck.
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About the author: Gustavo Henrique Ruffo
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Motoring writer since 1998, Gustavo wants to write relevant stories about cars and their shift to a sustainable future.
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