For a while now,
electric vehiclemakers have been focused on improving one aspect of the new technology with a little more vigor—the range of their EV batteries. For the last decade, the goal has been to raise the range to be at least on par with the gas tanks of regular cars.
But many are beginning to change gears. With the rising cost of components like lithium and graphite,
battery-makersare bypassing increased range in favor of new, cheaper materials that charge more quickly and can be accessed in a more environmentally friendly way.
EV battery tech heading in a new, smaller direction
Like most new technologies, electric vehicles were first marketed toward the wealthy. That deep-pocketed audience drove automakers to produce bigger EV batteries with more and more range. But to successfully transition the whole culture to EVs, they also needed to get cheaper.
That’s been the driving force behind the new trend in electric car batteries—using cheaper, more effective materials.
Reuterssays these experimental components can charge faster, allowing automakers to keep battery sizes smaller and more cost-effective.
The goal of these new EV battery materials is to make electric cars cheaper to produce and charging more similar to
fueling upa gas engine.
Rather than the 20-50 minute charging times of 300-mile-range batteries, these batteries will last around 150 miles and be able to recharge in five to 10 minutes.
Automakers already plan to use smaller electric car batteries
While the focus on marketing EVs still seems to be on extended battery ranges, many prominent automakers are shifting their focus toward these new, smaller, cheaper options.
Ford’s CEO Jim Farley says it’s the target for the company’s next generation of EVs is coming in 2026. "Re-engineering the vehicle to minimize the size of the batteries is going to be a game changer," he said at a conference in June.
Battery producers Toshiba and Volkswagen are already testing the use of niobium, a metal found primarily in Brazil and Canada, to build
super-fast charging EVs.
At the same time, Mercedes-backed battery startup StoreDot and others are using silicon-carbon anodes to speed up charging times.
Smaller electric car batteries mean cheaper electric cars
Batteries are by far the most expensive part of any electric vehicle. Replacing a Tesla’s battery, for example, costs upwards of $10,000. Dropping that cost will go a long way toward helping automakers lower the sticker prices of their EVs.
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