Battery technology has come a very long way. From the early days of nickel-metal hydride (NmH) to today’s lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries found in EVs, the technology behind the concept has continued to evolve. There is a new platform on the horizon and yes, it looks very promising for powering tomorrow’s smart cars and more.
Here’s a little history about the batteries found in electric vehicles. The first EVs would carry NmH batteries to power their engines. These were very bulky and needed a lot of space to hold their charge. Normally the whole car floor would house these batteries and you also had to deal with the subject of range anxiety. There was a worry that these kinds of batteries would only hold a limited amount of power therefore the need to charge regularly became a big issue. This spurred the demand for a charging station network in order to allow EV owners to drive long distances.
Like smartphones, EVs also progressed to using Li-ion as their primary power source. These batteries could hold more charge while occupying a slightly smaller space. This means that you can obtain more range out of them as well as getting better battery health since its design is superior to Nmh.
The next-generation battery for EVs will come using solid-state (SS) technology. Simply put, the difference between an SS battery and a traditional Li-ion is the materials that the ions pass through. As the name suggests, an SS battery uses solid electrodes and a solid electrolyte as compared to the liquid or polymer gel electrolytes found in the NmH and Li-ion batteries. This means that you get faster charging times, extended battery life and over-all improved safety. SS batteries also provide a longer driving range when optimized. SS batteries will be more dense which will allow builds to be smaller and more compact.
Companies like Toyota, Ford, Honda, GM, Saic, BMW and Nissan have started to look into the technology and its applications for the industry as a whole. Companies like Quantumscape and Solid Power have received backing from several of the big name players. With Volkswagen creating PowerCo, a subsidiary looking into advancing battery tech, they will also help push the shift to this new platform for future electric vehicles.