Solid State Batteries May Not Hit Market in Time to Boost EV Uptake

Electric vehicle batteries have been subject to constant research and improvements over the past couple of years to improve their energy density and safety. Although high-end electric vehicles can have up to 400 miles in range on a single charge, the average EV doesn’t have enough range to alleviate range anxiety. And given that America’s public charging infrastructure is woefully insufficient, many people are reluctant to switch to battery-powered electric cars.

Solid state batteries, which replace the traditional liquid electrolyte in lithium-ion batteries with a solid electrolyte and use lithium metal anodes rather than a graphite anode, are slated to be game changers in EV battery technology. They are more energy dense, which gives them significantly increased range, and they are much more resistant to overheating and fires. Experts predict that solid-state batteries could be the catalyst that finally tips the scales in favor of electric cars and leads to mass adoption.

But despite the lofty predictions of solid-state batteries dominating the EV battery segment in the near future, Prime Planet Energy & Solutions president Hiroaki Koda says that lithium-ion batteries will be king for the next decade. Prime Planet Energy & Solutions is a joint venture between Panasonic and Toyota that currently develops square lithium-ion batteries.

As the race to electrification heats up, automakers are investing millions of dollars into developing solid-state EV batteries because they promise to bring enhanced safety and extended range. Ford and Volkswagen invested in solid-state battery companies Solid Power and Quantumscape, Nissan has announced plans to mass produce solid-state batteries by 2028, and Honda will use $301 million to operate a pilot production line for the novel battery technology.

Solid state batteries may be a game changer, but their time is not now, Koda said, stating that there are a few things preventing these batteries from becoming prevalent in the near future. For starters, he said, solid-state batteries are complex and challenging to develop, a factor that could slow down their development. Koda also said that the dominance of these batteries may be held back by new developments in lithium-ion battery chemistries.

Research company Strategy Analytics is of the same opinion, predicting that the deployment of solid-state batteries will be delayed until the end of the decade.

At the moment, EV makers such as Fisker Inc. (NYSE: FSR) are looking for innovative ways to maximize value from the current battery technology in use so that motorists enjoy reliable and cost-effective fully electric vehicles in the push to phase out vehicles running on fossil fuels.

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