CNETreports that Nissan is looking into opening a pilot plant for solid-state batteries in a move that would greatly reduce the cost of battery packs.
The automaker announced that it hopes to begin producing the solid-state battery packs by 2024 in what’s initially a test run for the technology.
What makes solid-state batteries better than lithium-ion?
JD Powertells us solid-state batteries are smaller and more stable than their
lithium-ioncounterparts. They also don’t contain a flammable liquid electrolyte, instead opting for a solid electrolyte. Lithium-ion batteries are known to be unstable in extreme temperatures and can catch fire or explode when damaged.
In addition to being relatively safer, solid-state batteries also last longer and recharge faster. Lithium-ion batteries start to lose capacity after about 1,000 charge cycles, while solid-state batteries will still retain 90% of their capacity after 5,000 charge cycles.
They’re also lighter than lithium-ion batteries with twice the energy density, meaning new electric vehicles with solid-state batteries could use fewer battery cells to deliver the same range as their lithium-ion predecessors.
Bringing costs down is key
Until now, the primary reason why solid-state batteries haven’t truly taken off for anything larger than smart watches or pacemakers is the cost of developing and manufacturing them.
As CNET reports, Nissan is hoping to bring the cost of batteries down to $75 per kilowatt-hour by 2028, with future development hitting $65 per kilowatt-hour. For reference, the current industry average sits at $132 per kilowatt-hour.
How it (might) help the consumer
Making better batteries more affordable can make electric vehicles themselves more affordable to a new demographic of buyers—one that’s currently priced out of the market. As it stands, “affordable” electric vehicles rarely dip below the $30,000 threshold with a few notable exceptions (hat tip to the Nissan Leaf EV).
It’s yet to be seen, however, if automakers will prioritize a truly affordable electric car for the masses, even with reduced battery costs. The current trend in the automotive industry is toward higher average transaction prices; with the cost of the average
new vehiclehitting more than $46,000, it’s uncertain if consumers would see any meaningful savings for a new EV, or if automakers would simply absorb the savings to pad their profits.
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