Nissan on Friday unveiled a prototype production facility for solid-state batteries, a critical step in the automaker’s goal to develop and deliver an EV powered by next-generation battery technology by 2028.
The materials, design and manufacturing processes developed during prototype production at Nissan Research Center will be used in a pilot production line at Nissan’s Yokohama plant in 2024. Ultimately, Nissan aims to use fully solid-state batteries in pickup trucks and other vehicles as part of Nissan’s Ambition 2030, its long-term plan to cover half of its global sales by the end of the decade.
Battery technology is seen by Nissan – and many others – as the key to unlocking cheaper, longer-range EVs to the masses. It has prompted a growing list of automakers, startups and investors to bet on solid-state batteries, a technology that uses a solid electrolyte and not a liquid or gel-based electrolyte found in lithium-ion batteries.
“To further democratize EVs, the most important innovation is the battery,” Kazuhiro Doi, head of the Nissan Research Center, said in a briefing.
Nissan said refining solid-state battery technology could make EVs as affordable as gasoline-powered vehicles by the end of the decade. Specifically, Nissan said all-solid-state batteries could be cut to $75 per kWh in fiscal 2028 and to $65 per kWh thereafter, bringing EVs to the same cost level as gasoline-powered vehicles.
Solid-state batteries have double the energy density of a conventional lithium-ion battery, which theoretically translates to longer range and faster charge times, while at the same time using cheaper materials than other EVs on the road today. In addition to a higher energy density, these batteries last longer and are considered safer than a lithium-ion battery. That’s why several automakers, including General Motors, Stellantis, Mercedes-Benz and Ford, have invested in solid-state battery startups as they race to electrify their portfolios. Volkswagen-backed QuantumScape plans to start selling them in 2024, followed by a production Toyota model in 2025.
However, marketing solid state batteries for electric vehicles has proved challenging. Currently, the batteries are expensive to manufacture and difficult to scale.
And while the benefits are many, even Nissan recognizes that even batteries with a solid electrolyte are not without risk. A liquid electrolyte found in today’s lithium-ion batteries can be a fire hazard. But doubling the energy density in a battery can also be dangerous.
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