NIU regresses to sodium-ion batteries to drive electric scooter costs down

Chinese electric scooter giants NIU will revert to less advanced but cheaper sodium-ion batteries for one of its new models in 2023

NIU NQI GTS Pro riding electric scooter

NIU has announced it will introduce a new electric scooter model next year that will use sodium-ion batteries in an effort to slash costs.

The ninth largest two-wheel/motorcycle manufacturer in the world based on global sales in 2021, NIU has become one of the industry’s key players in the thriving electric scooter market both in China and on the world scene.

However, it is already counting the cost of using lithium-ion batteries in its models as demand for the alkali metal grows exponentially with the rise in electrically-powered models on the motorcycle and PTW market.

Indeed, while electric is being viewed as the eco-friendly alternative to the fossil fuels that will eventually be phased out, there are concerns the process of mining lithium is offsetting many of the environmental benefits of adopting it.

As such, NIU CEO Li Yan has announced the firm will turn its attention to utilising sodium-ion batteries for one of its models next year.

Though not as regressive as acid-batteries, sodium-ion batteries are seen as more rudimentary compared with lithium-ion. However, while they are heavier, sodium is plentiful in supply and cheaper to obtain.

Perhaps more concerning, however, according to Electrive, is NIU considering putting more research and development into the use of lead-acid batteries as a means of reducing costs to bring electric models into line with their ICE rivals.

NIU is the second largest manufacturer in the world for both scooters and electric PTWs having sold more than 1 million models in 2021 alone. However, it is a significant distance adrift of the market leader in those areas, Yadea, which last year sold  more than 6 million.