Solid-State Battery Development Gets Serious for EVs as VW, Toyota, and Others Pursue It Head-On

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Filed under Automotive, EV News, News, Toyota, Volkswagen

In the race to revolutionize electric vehicle (EV) battery technology, major automakers like Volkswagen (VW), Toyota, and others are intensifying efforts to overcome the challenges associated with solid-state batteries. The focus on solid-state technology stems from its potential to address key issues in EVs, such as longer driving ranges and shorter charging times compared to traditional lithium-ion packs.

Volkswagen, in collaboration with U.S. startup QuantumScape, has faced delays in developing a solid-state electric car battery. However, in a bid to diversify its options, VW is exploring a joint development agreement with Blue Solutions, a unit of French conglomerate Bollore. Solid-state technology is often referred to as the “holy grail” of EV batteries due to its promises of improved performance and safety.

The technical hurdles in solid-state battery development have prompted automakers to seek alternative partnerships and explore various approaches. Despite the challenges, VW asserts that its venture with QuantumScape remains on track. Blue Solutions, on the other hand, aims to reduce the charging time of its batteries from the current four hours to 20 minutes for passenger cars. The company is also working towards establishing a “gigafactory” for its solid-state batteries by 2029.

The commercial success of solid-state batteries has been elusive, leading to a decline in investor interest. The global venture capital deal activity in solid-state battery companies reportedly fell by 72% in the previous year. The skepticism arises from the industry’s struggle to deliver on promises and concerns about the reliability and scalability of solid-state technology.

QuantumScape, despite being backed by VW with a $300 million investment, has faced challenges in achieving mass commercial production of its solid-state batteries. The initial expectations of powering Volkswagen EVs by 2025 have been delayed, and the company’s shares have experienced a significant drop.

Toyota, another major player in the automotive industry, has also adjusted its ambitions regarding solid-state batteries. While initially targeting a 2025 production startup, Toyota now anticipates scaling up production by 2027 or 2028. The company claims to have achieved a technical breakthrough, promising a driving range of 750 miles or more and a charging time of 10 minutes.

Numerous companies, including Chinese battery leader CATL, LG Energy Solution, Solid Power, ProLogium, Honda, and Nissan, are actively working on solid-state battery development. Notably, EV market leader Tesla has not detailed any plans for solid-state battery development.

The key challenge in solid-state battery research revolves around the introduction of lithium metal for the anode, which can enhance performance but poses risks of reactions and short-circuits. Despite setbacks and uncertainties, automakers and battery manufacturers are determined to unlock the full potential of solid-state technology, with the hopes of reshaping the future of electric vehicles.

Source: Reuters


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