The lithium-ion battery has been at the heart of the electric vehicle revolution, allowing carmakers to exchange internal combustion engines for electric powertrains. But despite the achievements of li-ion batteries, especially in regard to the development of zero-emission electric cars, they are still a long way from perfect. The average EV battery still has limited range, takes a while to recharge and barely compares to fossil fuels in terms of energy density.
That may soon change now that a Colorado-based battery maker has begun producing game-changing solid-state battery cells in a pilot program. Backed by both Ford Motor and BMW, battery startup Solid Power has announced that it has begun producing the innovative battery cells and will start shipping them to backers Ford and BMW later this year for testing.
Solid-state batteries are a significant improvement over the lithium-ion battery packs currently used in EVs because they have more energy density, offer drivers more range and a shorter charging time, and have a lower fire risk. As such, automakers keen on making a mark in the growing EV space have kept a close eye on the technology as it develops for the past couple of years.
However, battery makers are still tweaking the technology to create a design that can be mass-produced affordably and withstand years of use. They are expected to achieve such a design within the next couple of years. Solid Power alleges that its solid-state batteries can be produced at already existing lithium-ion factories and do not require expensive specialized factories. This gives the Colorado-based company an advantage over battery companies whose designs call for specialized factories and equipment.
Solid Power will begin producing small quantities of its solid-state batteries for internal testing to fine-tune the manufacturing processes and perfect the battery design. CEO Doug Campbell says that Ford and BMW will receive the batteries by the end of 2022 for testing. If the tests with prototype vehicles are successful, Campbell says, he expects Ford and BMW to give official approval of the battery design in the first half of 2024.
After that Solid Power will forward its solid-state design to a battery manufacturer that can handle mass production. This means that we may see vehicles equipped with Solid Power batteries by the end of the decade. And with consumers clamoring for electric vehicles with more range and shorter charging times, such EVs are sure to fly off the floor and make shareholders of car manufacturers such as ElectraMeccanica Vehicles Corp. Ltd. (NASDAQ: SOLO) very happy with the value they receive.
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