Who is going to offer the first feasible solid-state battery to electric cars? Murata will start selling them in the fall, according to Nikkei Asia, but these solid-state cells will be only for wearables. Solid Power and QuantumScape are the strongest names around. While Volkswagen backs the latter, we learned this May 3 that BMW and Ford are willing to use Solid Power’s solid-state cells in their cars.
The automakers have completed a $130 million Series B investment in the company with Volta Energy Technologies, a venture capital firm. BMW and Ford also expanded a joint development agreement to secure all-solid-state batteries for its EVs.
Currently, Solid Power is making a 20 Ah multi-layered solid-state cell. Frank Weber, Member of the Board of Management BMW AG for Development, said it helped Solid Power develop the battery and that it is “absolutely outstanding in this field.” Factorial Energy recently announced one with 40 Ah.
This 20 Ah solid-state battery is made in a continuous roll-to-roll production line in Colorado that uses only industry-standard lithium-ion cells manufacturing equipment and processes, as the image and the video above show.
That is a great advantage for the cell suppliers currently in business. In theory, they would not have to invest a load of money in new equipment and processes to manufacture solid-state batteries. If they can be made with what is available nowadays, their price also tends to be lower.
The lower costs come not only from investments that do not have to be made. According to the graphic above, they can also come from cutting production steps that are no longer necessary for solid-state batteries.
According to Solid Power, it has only five steps in assembly instead of five – obviously eliminating electrolyte filling – and formation has only one step (regular lithium-ion cells have five). The eliminated steps would account for 5 percent and 30 percent of CapEx in a gigafactory. The plan for BMW and Ford is to get full-scale 100 Ah batteries with automotive-grade standards by early 2022.