German automaker Volkswagen has a plan to put automotive solid-state batteries into production by 2025, today announcing that it has increased its ownership stake in the California-based QuantumScape Corporation and formed a new joint venture with the company. The two firms have been working together to make solid-state battery technology ready for automotive use since 2012, in the hopes of solving a few of the problems that Li-ion cell chemistry is susceptible to.
Key among the solid-state battery’s benefits are the possibility for faster recharge times, improved stability, greater longevity, and higher energy density. By way of example, Volkswagen says that its E-Golf, if equipped with a solid-state battery pack comparable in size to its current Li-ion pack, would have a range of 750 kilometers instead of 300.
Recognizing the technology’s promise, BMW Group, Dyson, Fisker, Porsche, and Toyota have all implemented their own plans to produce solid-state batteries in the future, as well. Like Volkswagen, BMW is planning to put those solid-state batteries on the road in 2025.
The question is: will Ford, too, be an early adopter, or will it soldier on with the less-expensive li-ion technology? In an interview with Autoline earlier this year, Hau Thai-Tang, Ford’s Executive VP of Product Development and Purchasing, said that the rapidly-changing landscape of battery technology was one of the reasons Ford wouldn’t be investing in a massive battery-production facility like Tesla Motors did.
“We don’t want to get into a situation where we invest billions of dollars of capital, have inefficient scale, be over-capacitized, and then have the technology landscape change on us,” he told Autoline. “And then you’re stuck with that asset.”
So, if Ford jumps on the solid-state-battery bandwagon, it likely won’t be through its own battery production facility. Rather, it would likely be through its battery partner – Samsung SDI – that Ford might be able to supply solid-state batteries to its own electric vehicles. Although, it’s worth mentioning that Ford just signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Volkswagen to explore launching a strategic partnership. Perhaps that could give Ford a means of acquiring automotive-grade solid-state batteries.
Either way, assuming manufacturing costs can be cut and controlled, expect to see a whole range of EVs with solid-state batteries on the road within the next dozen years.