Electric vehicles will have to wait for the solid-state battery to “change the game”
Solid-state batteries, which have long held hopes of selling turbocharged electric vehicles, will not be the “game changer” the market has been waiting for, according to the head of one of the world’s largest battery makers. car.
Hiroaki Koda, who heads a battery joint venture between Toyota and Panasonic, told the Financial Times in an interview that new liquid-based lithium-ion batteries will be dominant over the next 10 years.
Prime Planet currently manufactures square lithium-ion batteries, half of which are used in Toyota’s hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles, while Panasonic supplies smaller cylindrical batteries to power Tesla’s electric vehicles.
“Solid-state batteries are a game-changer, it’s still a long way off,” said Koda, president of Prime Planet Energy & Solutions and a former Toyota executive. “One of the reasons is the difficulty in developing [solid-state batteries]and the other is the expanded potential of liquid lithium-ion batteries.
In recent years, the development of solid-state batteries has been heralded as the most promising technology to address EV battery issues, including charging time, capacity, and risk of fire and explosion.
Automakers have invested money in developing solid-state batteries, which are lighter and safer than current electric vehicle batteries. Solid-state batteries replace a liquid electrolyte with a solid electrolyte and use lithium metal at the anode, instead of graphite as is the case in current lithium-ion batteries.
Honda will spend 43 billion yen ($301 million) in 2024 at one of its research centers to operate a pilot production line, while Nissan announces plans to mass-produce the batteries by 2028. Volkswagen and Ford have invested in starting solid-state batteries. ups QuantumScape and Solid Power, respectively.
But they remain expensive and difficult to produce, forcing manufacturers to postpone their launch. Research firm Strategy Analytics predicts that the deployment of solid-state batteries in electric vehicles will be delayed until 2030.
Toyota, which has more than 1,000 filed patents for solid-state batteries, revealed a year ago that it wanted to start selling cars with the batteries before 2025 in hybrid, but not electric, models.
Koda said Prime Planet has begun developing the next generation of liquid-based lithium-ion batteries with Toyota and Panasonic. Prime Planet hopes to deploy the technology as soon as 2025.
The Japanese joint venture, which was launched in 2020, makes most of the batteries for hybrid vehicles, but has less presence for electric vehicles.
To better compete with larger competitors like China’s CATL and South Korea’s LG Energy Solution, Koda has lowered the cost of battery production by using manufacturing techniques it learned at Toyota.
“The key is to shorten the processes leading to battery development and production,” Koda said, adding that this would allow the company to respond more quickly to automakers’ needs.
Cost savings are essential for battery manufacturers to remain competitive due to the high cost of metals. Materials make up 60% of the cost of an EV battery, Koda says, and about half of that cost comes from natural resources like lithium.
In April, the government said Japan would strive to control 20% of the world’s rechargeable battery market by expanding the global production capacity of Japanese companies nearly 10 times by 2030.
With the rise of Chinese and South Korean rivals, Japan’s global share of automotive lithium-ion batteries has halved from 40% in 2015 to 20% in 2020, according to the Commerce Ministry.
To achieve this goal, Koda said Prime Planet is working with Mitsubishi, Mitsui and other Japanese trading houses to secure lithium and other resources needed for batteries. It has also signed deals with companies such as Australia’s Ioneer and BHP.