On May 24, 2022, Stellantis and Samsung announced the creation of a new battery plant in Indiana, following similar announcements in Europe and Canada (the joint venture is dubbed NextStar Energy). Like the new Ontario factory, the Indiana site is a joint venture with Samsung SDI. This new announcement noted, though, that the plant would make PRiMX batteries—but what is PRiMX?
PRiMX is the new (announced in December 2021) line of Samsung batteries; the name comes from “PRime Battery for Maximum Experience.” The trademark will cover multiple types of batteries, as long as Samsung SDI believes they have high quality, high performance, and a proven advantage; it is also not just car batteries that are covered. Even power tools can use PRiMX cells.
Samsung SDI said they were increasing their quality inspections to check 500 points during manufacturing; they are also using defect detection algorithms with learning-based artificial intelligence at the manufacturing and shipping phases. Their competitor, LG, found out what happens when quality slips: their customer General Motors had to do an expensive battery-replacement recall, and LG footed the vast majority of the bill. That said, LG still supplies the highly praised Lucid Air and Volvo Polestar EVs.
Samsung’s prismatic lithium-ion batteries use high nickel cathodes and silicon anodes. Fast charging is enabled by reducing lithium-ion transport distance and time by reducing resistance within the cells. Samsung is also working on future solid state batteries using silver-carbon-coated anodes rather than lithium metal anodes, but this is years away from production—and estimated to provide a range of around 500 miles, as claimed for the Ram 1500 EV, with a 500,000 mile lifetime.
The company also makes batteries for PHEVs and plain hybrid-electric vehicles, and some of these are likely to be produced at the joint venture plants.
Samsung SDI was created in 1970 to make vacuum and picture tubes, and has expanded through the digital realm, and also works with Volvo. The company name was changed to Samsung SDI in 1999; “SDI” stood for Samsung Digital Interface/Internet Components, and while the company has expanded quite a bit, they kept the old name. In 2015, Samsung SDI bought Magna Steyr Battery Systems. The company also provides car batteries for BMW, which has 96 cells in multiple cell packs.
Overall, Stellantis is making a hefty bet on Samsung SDI rather than going their own way as per GM or using a combination of contractors as Volvo does.
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