Nissan Says Development Of Solid-State Batteries “Practically A Zero”

APR 6 2018 BY DOMENICK YONEY 77

New chemistry is a hard cell

Solid-state batteries are the next big thing in electric cars. They substitute the aqueous electrolyte used in today’s lithium cells for a solid medium through which ions pass as they make their way between positive and negative electrodes, creating current. We’re promised that successful execution of the tech will bring huge increases in both energy density and charging speed, cementing the electric vehicle as a superior option to infernal combustion-powered machines. This is the gospel according to some significant players in the industry.

And why would anyone think otherwise? After all, practically every single automaker and battery manufacturer is on this bandwagon, and we were told three years ago that the major discoveries needed were already done. Since then, we’ve seen Toyota’s improved solid-state battery patents and been told to look for them in 2022; we’ve watched BMW team with Solid Power and build its huge battery cell competence center; Fisker has promised commercialization by 2023 and brought a sample cell to this year’s CES; Hyundai claims to have already started small scale production. It’s a done deal, right?

Related – Watch This Report On 2018 Nissan LEAF 40 kWh Fast Charging Issues

2018 Nissan LEAF battery

One notable automaker, however, is unconvinced. according to Automotive NewsNissan, one of the earliest outfits to pursue the electric vehicle market, doesn’t see anyone reaching the solid-state promised land until the middle of the next decade. In the words of  Nissan’s senior vice president for research and advanced engineering, Takao Asami, “All solid-state batteries, roughly speaking, are still in the initial phase of research. So according to my feeling, it’s practically a zero at this stage.” He went on to say that the technology “…still need several breakthroughs.”

Where Asami-san does see room for progress in the near-term is with traditional lithium ion batteries. The executive seem s to believe there may be at least two major advances that could be achieved with the sort of chemistry in play today. Said he: “We have a goal for two more generations or so.”‘

We here at InsideEVs are neither battery scientists nor soothsayers, so we can not say how right or wrong his prognostications might be. But, if we take into consideration Nissan’s historic and more recent troubles with its batteries falling short of expectations, we certainly hope they boost the budget for its battery science and engineering R&D, lest it be caught out by competitors in a few years.

 Nissan LEAF

2018 Nissan LEAF
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Source: Automotive News

Categories: Battery Tech, Nissan

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77 Comments on "Nissan Says Development Of Solid-State Batteries “Practically A Zero”"

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Gee, it would be nice if he would tell us, in general, what he expects the next generations of batteries to give us.

(And why wouldn’t anyone think otherwise?

You mean “Why would anyone think otherwise?”. The way you phrased it suggests that everyone agrees it is foolish.)

Thank you, Ambulator. You are correct. FIxed.

He’s got Leafs to sell today. Why promise a breakthrough that will obsolete your new Leaf purchase?

/cynicism.on

Of course, this is coming from the company that is already heavily invested in making their own traditional Li-ion batteries. Any major shakeup could be bad for them.

/cynicism.off

“Of course, this is coming from the company that is already heavily invested in making their own traditional Li-ion batteries. Any major shakeup could be bad for them.”

Kdawg, it would have to be another reason. Nissan sold AESC last year.

Isn’t Nissan still making their own batteries though?

No, they are not.

No, now they’re buying them from the new owner, which is also why it’s speculated that #rapidgate has become a thing. It’s widely believed that since Nissan no longer owns the manufacturing, they have to play by the rules of the new owner for the warranties to be valid.

Are they obligated to buy from them? Or can they do like everyone (besides Tesla) and shop around for the best battery on the market?

Good question. The answer won’t be so easy. It would depend on the wording of the contract between Nissan and its new battery supplier(s), and how committed that makes them. Since EV makers generally keep info like that as proprietary, it’s very doubtful you’re going to get a clear answer to your question.

However, according to a recent analysis covered here at InsiceEVs, the newer Leaf batteries are deteriorating at an even faster rate than the older ones. If that’s true, and not a false conclusion as result of mistaken assumptions or inconsistent analysis, then Nissan may well be shopping around for a new supplier!

They are shopping for the best at LG Chem. The next battery will be from them. The problem is, everyone wants batteries these days. And the battery factories aren’t built yet. So for current Leaf they use what they can get their hands on.

Can’t wait to ask my Nissan dealer about getting my greasy mitts on one of them new and improved “infernal combustion-powered machines”.

Nissan, “infernalization” that excites!

I had to read it three times…. freudian slip I’m sure!

If you mean Domenick had a Freudian slip, then no, I don’t think so. I’m fairly certain that was on purpose.

Probably intentional, yes. The term “infernal combustion engine” is a fairly common snarky pejorative on EV-related forums.

(Pushy looks at comment posted immediately below….)

…or not! 🙂

I had slipped that in there in the draft, meaning to change it to “internal” during the edit. Oops. 🙂

I think the the current air-cooled Nissan batteries are akin to modern cell phones although they do have larger buffers, naturally. Who out there with the modern smartphone that’s over a year old is sharing my frustration and having to carry portable battery packs and chargers everywhere you go? A liquid cooled, thermally controlled battery pack in a cell phone would probably make it as thick as a laptop. The phone would also cost a mint. Nissan Engineers admitted that their decision to go with an air-cooled battery pack was an economic one with the first generation LEAF. The second generation seems to show that Nissan’s plan to undercut the Bolt EV by going the economy route again may be a major mistake. A larger thermally controlled LG battery pack for the long-range LEAF in 2019 seems to be where they should have gone in the first place. That said, many people will buy the air cooled LEAF on price point alone and truly a short distance commuter is what they seek anyway. Just don’t buy one and expect a strong resale value. Is it any wonder that more Leafs are leased than purchased?! Either way the thermally controlled lithium… Read more »

You really can’t say with any certainty that thermally controlled is the only way to go.

Battery guru Jeff Dahn has been working with Tesla and made cells that do 1200 cycles at 45 deg C before dropping to 80%. The problem with Nissan’s batteries is their chemistry and/or manufacturing process isn’t top notch.

As you alluded to later in your post, Nissan’s long range Leaf will likely sell far worse than the base model. The LEAF’s niche is dominating the sub-$35k EV market (nothing touches it in performance, tech, or non-frigid range). Tesla will have such a vastly superior product and infrastructure for $5k+ more, especially when the Y is released, so why mess around I that price range?

IMO, Nissan definitely made the right decision given the circumstances.

In the light of Nissan selling their battery plant, I thought they might be onto the next technology like solid-state.

About SSD battery I see the light, after smart phones are starting to adapt them, then they will be in expensive sports electric cars and motorcycle then in mainstream EV´s,
The path is clear!

That is indeed that path, but it will take a long time to get there. Regular liquid-electrolyte batteries will keep making advances too, so there’s no certainty that solid state will surpass them for mainstream EVs even by 2025.

I’m reminded of LCD vs plasma and OLED. LCD just kept making advances to get cheap, and no matter how awesome plasma and OLED we’re in picture quality, LCD was good enough at a lower price point.

With EVs, price per kWh is king.

Tesla have already achieved many things that other people did not think were possible until much much further in the future. Tesla have accelerated battery technology already to the point that we’re currently at the point where people thought we’d be at in 2050.

Fair enough Nissan doesn’t think it’s possible, but it’s a bit short sighted of them to think that it’s not possible for anyone else. Given that any advancements in this field will be a closely guarded secret until that company can capitalise on it, it wouldn’t really be publicly known.

This is the risk and danger of building billion-dollar lithium battery factories. Even if some have worked out all the kinks in solid state technology, retooling a conventional lithium-ion factory that was just completed at large peril to solid state manufacturing would be too much for even a large company.

This seems to be the Toyota strategy = wait out the technology until an economical and reliable solid-state process can be finalized. This would put Tesla and others who have completed large conventional lithium-ion battery factories on their heels and at a big disadvantage.

This is just one of the scenarios that could sink Tesla. Others include if any of the large OEMs decide to go toe-to-toe with high volume production for an SUV or pickup truck.

Couldn’t Tesla just produce both types of batteries, offering the traditional as a lower cost option? Once orders for their current Li batteries drops to the point where it isn’t financially feasible to keep up production they could upgrade it to the newer tech.

Tesla could be in trouble if a cheap solid-state battery burst suddenly onto the scene. But it’s far more likely that when mass produced solid-state batteries do appear, they will be rather expensive, and so used only in such things as cell phones and laptop computers at first. That should give Tesla a few years to prepare for transitioning Gigafactory One over to making solid-state batteries. Will that be expensive? Yes, it will. But if you think about it, building Gigafactory One has been only a relatively small part of Tesla’s expenses for putting the Model 3 into production. Even if Tesla had to build a second Gigafactory for making solid-state batteries, abandoning Gigafactory One, I think the company’s financial position is strong enough to weather that storm. And really, it’s not going to be that bad. They are doing lots of things at Gigafactory One now, such as — if I understand it correctly — building the entire Model 3 powertrain, not just the battery pack. All just my opinion, of course. But serial anti-Tesla FUDsters keep inventing reasons to claim Tesla’s business is going to collapse. They’ve been doing that for years now, and so far they have… Read more »

That is also assuming the change over to Solid State batteries requires a major change in the hardware used to assembled batteries already.

Some SS batteries are very like the present ones we use now, but the wet liquids are replace with a gel-like film. In that case the change over would be very fast and cheap.

Careful. I did not say it WILL be easy, I said it may be easy and cheap in which case the companies that wait lose what they think is an advantage.

@James – Toyota isn’t waiting out technology. Toyota has NO interest in losing its investment in gassers. They want the status quo to remain for a decade more so they don’t need to actually move battery technology forward.

It fits into Toyota’s plans not to invest. Not because they want to wait on technology, They just don’t care.

The potential advent of SSD batteries cuts both ways though, in Tesla’s favor and against. By greatly increasing the risk of building more battery production capacity (for example, Bosch just cancelled their plans to invest $20 billion in battery production, starting the risk was too high), it greatly increases the odds that when demand for EVs takes off and demand for ICE cars drops off a cliff the batteries will simply not be there for the automakers to replace their lost ICE car production with EVs. That fairly likely scenario sees most automakers going under, especially when combined with the potential autonomous mobility disruption. Leaving Tesla and a few others to take over the industry.

I noticed a couple of people here call them SSD batteries, which is wrong, maybe it’s just auto-correction?
SSD is short for Solid State Drive or Solid State Disk, the flash based drives with no moving mechanical components, replacing traditional electromechanical hard disk drives.

So the abbreviation for Solid-State batteries would just be SS batteries, not SSD batteries.
SS is better known the abbreviation for Schutzstaffel, from the Nazi Party, so maybe people don’t like that abbreviation for Solid-State.

retooling a conventional lithium-ion factory that was just completed at large peril to solid state manufacturing would be too much for even a large company.

That’s what people keep repeating until everyone thinks it’s a fact. Well, I don’t believe it.

Much of the equipment is standard material processing machines and things like conveyor belts, robots, etc for moving half fabricates.

Also you ignore that a factory is more than the machines. It is also supply lines of materials and a trained and experienced workforce that is worth its weight in gold.

Those starting with a classic lithium Ion battery are clearly at a great advantage over those that have to start from zero.

Ugh
classic lithium Ion battery -> classic lithium ion batter factory

FYI, Tesla has the same opinion about solid state batteries as Nissan. Nothing there to warrant a change of production plans for a long time.

I think Tesla would agree.

Nissan pontificating about batteries smacks me as bit of a joke. They can’t even properly manage their own battery system but can make predictions years ahead about solid state batteries.

Wasn’t it Fisker who claims they have one already?
Of course that’s Fisker, but even so the middle of next decade is not too far away.
So it’s zero chance before 2025 or so and then what, suddenly they just appear?

Nissan’s claims that solid-state batteries are years and years away from being “ready for prime time” certainly does have the whiff of sour grapes.

But Tesla is not only quietly saying the same thing, they’ve bet billions on current battery tech. That’s a pretty powerful case of “putting your money where your mouth is”. If Tesla had strong evidence that solid-state batteries suitable for production EVs were only, let’s say, 2 to 3 years away, would Tesla have spent billions on building a gigantic battery factory using current tech? I think it’s safe to say “No!”

I don’t claim to have any inside knowledge of what’s being developed behind closed doors in the area of solid-state batteries, but I’d bet that Tesla does!

Tesla HAD to have the Gigafactory. They only make electric cars, and to reach their goal of a mass market priced and mass market volume EV, the Model 3, they had to have lower battery prices and they needed as many batteries as were produced worldwide in 2013 to make their projected volume of 500,000 cars a year. Without the Gigafactory, the Model 3 would not exist and Tesla would only be able to grow slowly from here as the other automakers start using huge numbers of batteries too.

See my reply to James above.

You seem to be believing they have to completely tear down the Gigafactory and rebuild it in order to switch to a new battery tech. An idiotic notion.

I am certain that only a small fraction of the total investment in the gigafactory will have to be written down early and a relatively small investment is needed for purchasing the new machines to accommodate some sub-processes in fabricating a solid state battery.

Actually I read that Elon has stated Fremont is chockers and Tesla is looking for a new site for a second facility, which will include a dedicated battery and drive train factory on site.
Plus plans to build a combination factory in China – I have read the Gigafactory design included the ability to rapidly and easily change battery technologies

Fisker also claimed that he had graphene supercapacitors already in production at an undisclosed location, and now claims the SSD guy approached him while Fisker was already claiming to have a breakthrough in hand “a year ago.” According to LinkedIn all of nine people work for Fisker’s new car company, including Fisker and his daughter. They have no labs or production facilities or even offices, no capital and no chance of ever having any, and the entire thing is literally scamware.

There is an Australian Company building a Graphene Super Cap, will initially for portable use and clothing etc (Flat and flexible and can be fitted into bands and watchbands etc.)
Much more development to produce auto battery packs

(The Best Battery)
http://www.swinburne.edu.au/news/latest-news/2017/06/breakthrough-technology-at-swinburne-makes-batteries-safe-and-sustainable.php
“The battery is very thin, it’s carbon based and it’s environmentally friendly,” Professor Jia says. “We filed a patent on the technology last year.”
Investment in its development will soon be under way through Graphene Solutions, a joint venture between graphite miner First Graphite Resources (FGR) and Melbourne electronics company Kremford Pty Ltd.

Sorry to hear that from Nissan, that could be a joke.
Every known automaker is after solid-state batteries.

If Toyota says they have done it, the I believe them. They have done a lot of pioneering throughout the years. Haven’t heard a single lie from them. After all second largest Automaker in the world. Nissan tend to make too much noise some times. I’d take Toyota’s word over Nissan’s any day of the week.

Toyota doesn’t say it has done it, it says it’s working on it and aims for 2023 commercialization. Earlier announcements by Toyota would have seen it introduce solid state this year, but the thing with scientific breakthroughs: one can’t actually put a timeline on them.

“Haven’t heard a single lie from them [Toyota].”

Claiming that there is no market for battery-electric cars, and that the future of automobiles is fuel cell cars, is a lie they have repeated very loudly and very often for several years.

Furthermore, Toyota suggesting or hinting that they are close to putting solid-state batteries into production may be just hype rather than an outright lie, but it’s almost certainly quite far from actually being true!

While I would dearly love to see solid state batteries become a reality, this is THE prime example of an “I’ll believe it when I see it” technology, just marginally ahead of fusion commercial power plants. I’ve been reading about SS energy storage for many years, lots of breakthroughs and promises and projections, yet they never seem to make it to market in any form close to EV application.

There’s nothing wrong with Nissan’s current batteries, just they need TMS to keep them cool, then you would see them lasting a lot longer.
Unless someone is really sitting on this discovery and just pops it out unexpectedly, I think they are right. There have been a lot of announcements but it still takes several years to develop it, test the variabilities and make sure it will actually work in the long term.
Too many different sources who claim to have something for it not to be true somewhere, now just waiting to see how quick, and who, can bring it to market.
Just hope it’s not like fuel cell and costs a ridiculous amount for what it provides.

Actually there is a great deal wrong with Nissan’s current batteries. The chemistry used in their newer Leaf packs may an even worse choice than the ones used in their older packs.

It’s been the conventional wisdom that the main reason so many Leaf batteries have prematurely aged is a lack of active cooling, but recent revelations suggest that a very bad choice for battery chemistry may be an even worse problem with the Leaf battery.

https://insideevs.com/nissan-leaf-30-kwh-battery-degrading-more-rapidly-than-24-kwh-pack/

The thing about science is that no one can possibly know how soon, if ever, that right idea will come along. You either figure it out or accidentally stumble on it, or not. Claims of being three or five years away are a farce; either you know how to do it or not and if not you really have no idea when you will figure it out or how hard that will be. You might wake up tomorrow with that idea or die not having had it.

Spoken in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018:

“Solid state batteries are only 5 years away.”

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

The EEStor……..lol

+1

In other news, Nissan announced that PI is, in fact, not equal to 3.

But “engineeringly rounded,” it is 3(ha).

If Nissan announces that Pi = 3, then no doubt all the wheels on all their cars will oblige by immediately transforming themselves from circular into hexagonal, 6-sided wheels. 😉

So, maybe WSJ wasn’t off the mark, when it said the next big move was progressively greater use of silicon within the lithium batteries?
https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-battery-boost-weve-been-waiting-for-is-only-a-few-years-out-1521374401?mod=searchresults&page=1&pos=2

If I’m an inventor and I got the “next big thing in batteries,” I would license it to the biggest battery company I could trust. I look for cutting edge battery tech implementation to be led by Tesla.

Is this the excuse for the Leaf’s lack of battery pack evolution? They skipped out on proper thermal management, and have now run straight into Rapidgate. Nissan sounds like any other company trying to think up diversionary tactics instead of simply building good electric cars.

No.

I think he was just asked about solid state. Everybody big on solid state seems to be talking mid 2020s, which means still at lab scale.

Quite the opposite. The guys hyping up solid state the most are battery startups and EV laggards like Toyota.

Tesla and Nissan – the ones producing the vast majority of EVs outside China – are the ones who see it as irrelevant for a long time.

Well, Nissan’s new battery strategy is to buy batteries from its suppliers. So, why invest more in it?

“It’s a done deal, right?”

Certainly not, but nor is it at zero, as author suggests.

BTW, why would anyone reveal their cards fully, openly and honestly??????? At the end, this is a race which never ends, with money to be made whoever gets there first to the significantly better, whatever that better means or is.

My guess is that the next big step up in battery technology will not be a move to a “solid state” battery as currently still under early development and unproven… which is basically the same battery chemistry except the use of solid electrolytes instead of a liquid or polymer electrolytes. The next big battery advancedmet may be more along the lines of a big breakthrough in super-capacitor technology. Why do I believe this? Well… What is the weight of an electron? When drilling down into the fundamental properties of an electron (charge, mass, & spin) it’s the mass property that stands out… nearly no mass… so starting from that point of reference it gets down to storage and transport (phase change) of electrons at minimum added weight overhead (for example perhaps somehow use of Aerographite + ionized hydrogen). That’s greatly simplified but point being that the next big leap in battery technology may likely completely move away from existing tech and lead to a very lightweight battery (think 1/10 or less) of existing battery tech with the same or better volumetric energy density. Problem is several scamish claims have been made over the years along the lines of a magical… Read more »

super capacitors have a core problem. They have huge voltage drops as they discharge. That makes them difficult to use as a primary “battery” when motors don’t perform well at low voltage.

For supercapacitors the voltage drops linearly on discharge but current is straight-line maintained so a DC-DC convertor can be used for voltage stability.

Several other problems exist too. They are struggling to exceed the charge per volume of lead acid batteries right now, and the graphene typically used is very expensive and would result in a cost around $250,000 to make one long range EV “battery.”

There are several ways to do efficient DC-DC conversion. You can use inductors in buck or boost topologies, and you can also use switched capacitors. The motor is a big inductor anyway, so PWM turns into a smooth current anyway.

Ever wonder how regen works across a large range of speeds, despite the battery needing a specific voltage to charge at the rate matching the power associated with the desired deceleration?

A Chinese City has buses operating using Super Caps – Transit network, range 5 Kilometers (bus stops would be lucky to be more than 1Km apart)
Pulls up at bus stop, boom drops and charging commences – takes 10 SECONDS, then on to next stop

Battery technology progresses slowly and in small increments. What matters is that the batteries we have TODAY could be used to completely replace ICE vehicles. We just have to build enough.

Same with renewable energy. Solar, wind, and batteries could replace our current fossil fuel based infrastructure; we just have to build enough panels, wind turbines, and batteries. We would also have to create tens of millions of high paying jobs to make it happen.

“All solid-state batteries, roughly speaking, are still in the initial phase of research…” That seems unduly pessimistic, but Nissan isn’t the only one betting on the current tech of li-ion batteries remaining viable for at least a few more years. Tesla would certainly not have invested billions in building its Gigafactory One if the company thought solid-state batteries would be commercialized in the near term! Regarding breakthru battery tech, I like to think of it in baseball terms. Getting your magic battery to work reliably in a laboratory demo is getting a solid first-base hit. But to get a home run, you need to advance three more bases; unit cost when mass produced, longevity, and volumetric energy density, must be addressed, and must be more-or-less competitive with current batteries, before EV makers are going to place quantity orders. There is at least one solid-state battery with a solid first-base hit: Ioniq Materials’ polymer solid-state “plastic battery”, as featured in “The Search for the Super Battery”, an episode of PBS’s “Nova” science series. I don’t know which if any other companies or research teams have a comparable solid first-base hit. But I haven’t heard of any progress in anybody advancing to… Read more »

I feel obligated to chime in her again, since my comment above is a wee bit on the pessimistic side.

I have no doubt that a Big Battery Breakthrough is a non-trivial challenge. But I’m convinced that with a huge number of corporations, universities, and researchers chasing it for a combination of fame and vast sums of money that somewhere someone will find at least one BBB. It might not happen for years, or it might have happened already and the researchers are still verifying results before writing a paper or letting their employer’s PR department issue a release.

If the BBB is better than current tech by enough of a margin — pick your own metric — then it could wind up being an immense disruption to an already disrupting process, the electrification of transportation. Imagine a battery technology that broadly works the same as what we’re using now in terms of weight, power and energy, etc., but at car manufacturing scale costs only about $10/kWh. Now that’s a show I’d pay to see…

10 dollars per kWh is pretty cheap. With mass adoption/production current tech could get there, or at least close. The point is it likely is not a certain chemistry that will lower costs significantly, but increase production/demand.

This is a fine example of cooking soup on a nail. One rusty nail boiled in water makes for a rather thin, flavourless and low-nutrient meal. If the optimistic view is that solid state cells will be commercially available in EVs in 2022, but Nissan “doesn’t see anyone reaching the solid-state promised land until the middle of the next decade”, i.e. 2025, it is apparently a huge deal and something that casts serious doubt over solid-state battery tech. If solid-state batteries arrive and do what we expect it doesn’t matter much if it’s in 2022 or 2025. The implications are exactly the same, and even the timeline isn’t much affected. What actually matters is whether they will really come in that period or at all, and if so, whether they’ll deliver the size, weight, range, charging speed, and above all *cost* benefits. I’m not an expert either. But I think the progress made so far gives reason to be optimistic. I don’t think the cost benefit will be realized immediately; at introduction, when volume is low and perhaps just one manufacturer has it, there should be a “high tech” premium. But quartz watches are dirt cheap to make, yet keep… Read more »

Nissan translation: blah! Blah! Blah!…etc…uh… yeah… look what people thought of Nicolai Tesla ….

Anyway Nissan is not making batteries, so why would they care for solid state batteries, if some battery maker makes it, they will just buy and install it in their vehicles.

They can just build electric vehicles and buy batteries from different suppliers, install and sell in record # and this way the battery suppliers are also getting good business and they will build more gigafactories.

Still they are the electric vehicle champions with 300,000 Leafs sold and including the Renault models, its 540,000 +. Now the Leaf is setting sales records in many countries. Lets hope March turns out to be another record month.

Why would ICE manufacturers develop battery technology? THEY WILL NOT CONNECT THE DOTS ON CLEAN AIR WAKE UP FOLKS

Well, he said ‘middle of next decade’, that’s 2025, and is only 7 years off. That is not far off of when other people are thinking. I suspect to see solid state batteries in smaller applications first, such as cell phones and computer laptops.