The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported on the 28th (local time) that the world’s major automakers are racing to commercialize all-solid-state batteries in the electric vehicle market first.
Major automakers are increasing their investment in independent R&D or external startups to mass-produce all-solid-state batteries that overcome the fire risk limit, which is a drawback of lithium-ion batteries currently used in electric vehicles.
According to Alix Partners, a management consulting firm, the amount of investment that major battery startups have attracted has already reached about $2 billion (2.3 trillion won).
Quantumscape, an American startup that has attracted about half of this investment, drew attention by announcing the results of an all-solid-state battery development experiment that charges 80% within 15 minutes in December last year. The company’s major investors include Volkswagen and Bill Gates.
Volkswagen even verified the experimental results of Quantumscape and decided to invest an additional $100 million in May. This brings Volkswagen’s total investment in the company to $300 million. Quantumscape, whose stock is listed on the US NASDAQ, currently has a market capitalization of $10.5 billion.
Volkswagen also agreed to build a pilot production facility for batteries for electric vehicles using the company’s technology. However, the final approval has been delayed while waiting for funding from the German government.
In May, when Volkswagen’s decision to expand investment was made, BMW and Ford also announced that they would invest $130 million in Solid Power, another all-solid-state battery development startup. Solid Power has already announced its intention to create a test manufacturing line to start production of automotive-size all-solid-state batteries next year.
Toyota already made a prototype vehicle using an all-solid-state battery it developed last year. However, it faces challenges such as short battery life, which has been confirmed through experimental driving, etc. The reason automobile manufacturers have started to develop all-solid-state batteries is that the limitations of current lithium-ion batteries are clear.
As can be seen from the success of electric vehicle maker Tesla, although lithium-ion batteries have made great technological progress over the past several decades, there are many problems to improve, such as mileage after charging, and above all, the risk of fire due to flammable electrolyte solution is a big concern.
In fact, General Motors (GM) of the United States is currently in a situation of mass recall of the Chevrolet Bolt EV, an electric vehicle equipped with LG Energy Solution’s batteries, due to the risk of fire. However, it is still unknown how quickly all-solid-state batteries will be developed.
“One of the unfinished tasks is cost,” said Oliver Zipse, BMW’s CEO, looking forward to all-solid-state batteries as the next-generation technology, but skeptical about how quickly mass production will take place.