Panasonic CEO Says Solid-State Batteries Aren’t Ready For Primetime

Tesla Panasonic Show stand

NOV 14 2018 BY MARK KANE 28

Solid-state batteries maybe in the 2030s?

Panasonic is one of the leading automotive lithium-ion battery manufacturers so it’s interesting to hear where the Japanese company stands on the introduction of solid-state batteries.

According to Tom Gebhardt – the CEO of Panasonic North America – solid-state batteries are at least a decade away from average/mainstream electric vehicles.

In other words, Panasonic does not exclude solid-state batteries and maybe there will be even some cars with such batteries in the next several years, but not the series-produced models.

Gebhardt anticipates that batteries will get incremental improvements instead of major transformative change.

We should add though that, in general, the big companies and market leaders are the last who’d like to see a major breakthrough, because it could potentially harm their businesses.

Source: Business Insider

Categories: Battery Tech

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28 Comments on "Panasonic CEO Says Solid-State Batteries Aren’t Ready For Primetime"

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Another Euro point of view

“solid-state batteries are at least a decade away from average/mainstream electric vehicles”. Out of topic but so are in my opinion full self driving cars, would not be surprised for this to be more than a decade away actually (again for average/mainstream vehicles and in all conditions).

Fully autonomous vehicles are at least a decade away before they can handle both weather and special circumstances that pop up all the time, like first responder vehicles on the side of the road, police checkpoints, detours, accidents, downed trees and power lines, etc. And that’s assuming we fix EVERY place where roads are poorly marked or even mismarked. The GPS in my car routinely gets the speed limit wrong in rural areas, and we’re going to let cars drive themselves based on bad data? Yikes!

(To be clear: I am not a luddite. I detest the way people drive on US roads and I desperately want to see autonomous vehicles arrive here and become the norm. But I’ve also been a software designer and programmer for decades so I have a really good idea just how hard it is to overcome the inherent stupidity of computers to make them act smart. Spoiler: It’s way harder than non-programmers think.)

definitely, just look at how well self checkout works. It’s been around for a long time but it still only works 95% of the time. AVs need to work 100% of the time, and it’s that last 5% of situations that are the roadblocks.

Second spoiler – its way harder than programmers think 🙂

This is the reason why cars should have a hundred meter talk zone around them as in I’m here this is my position and this is where I am going .
Or emergency vehicle here at this position blah blah cars then know we’re each other is with in a hundred meters of each other .
I would imagine there’s some clever people out there who could come up with such a simple system , boom no crashes

I’m certain full self-driving (defined as SAE Level 5) is more like 20-25 years away, if not more. As a former researcher in AI, in my opinion doing a good job in it will require essentially building a “strong AI” system, equivalent to passingthe Turing Test an indefinite length of time. The problem is indeed that an L5 system needs to handle 100% (not 99.95%) of the situations, or if it can’t, manage to stop the car safely off the road, which isn’t always possible.

Woz agrees with you Another Euro.

“But the Apple co-founder said, ‘I do not believe in auto driving cars’ at this point. ‘I don’t really believe it’s quite possible yet’ that cars will be able to drive themselves without a steering wheel, he added.”

“However, Wozniak does support of advancements in ‘assistive driving’ technology that can allow cars to ‘spot red lights, and stop signs and avoid some of the accidents today.'”

Meanwhile Waymo has been testing their driverless cars on the road with no one behind the wheel for a full year now.

They are set to launch their commercial service in early December. So self-driving cars are coming… in less than a month from now. Of course, it won’t be a huge release where they are everywhere. Bloomberg has said they will slowly scale up, starting with a small fleet of a few hundred cars in Phoenix, Arizona where there is little rain and obviously no snow. By 2020, Waymo is expected to have a fleet of over 80,000 driverless cars on the road in more major cities. They are more concerned with getting it right than making money right out of the gate.

Still completely driverless cars are on the road now and will be available as taxis in less than a month. As William Gibson famously said: “The future is already here – it’s just not evenly distributed.”

Until solid-state batteries are in the type of EV I want, I’ll stick with ICE vehicles. The price would have to be right, of course.

I want the best energy storage option possible in a BEV. Right now, that means lithium batteries, which are in my car, and I’m very happy with it, and not just when I get to cruise by the local Exxon station and wave.

If in the future solid state provides a better solution, great! I’ll buy a car that uses them. But for now, I’m dramatically cutting my carbon footprint (I charge with 100% green electrons) and getting a vastly better ownership and driving experience.

We should not let the promise of perfection keep us from adopting excellent, already available solutions.

Yes, the perfect is the enemy of the good in this case. I suspect that the Panasonic boss is right that mostly we will see incremental, but real, improvements over the years. Even if solid state batteries work out in terms of both engineering and economics the transition to them will occur over many years. Simply the time needed to ramp up their production to meet the likely battery demand 10 years from now would require this.

That is a rather arbitrary requirement. If the batteries perform the task I need them too, I could not care less about the underlying technology. Current batteries are good enough to go electric and never look back!

Yes, we know…you want something that doesn’t exist for free. Can we stop feeding the troll?

You likely won’t have a choice. ICE likely won’t be around by the time solid state is here.

He is right, they are not. They could be safer but may not have higher capacity nor charge more quickly. Sulfur could be the next advance, but has a ways to go yet.

I thought 2025 was usually the consensus date for switch to solid state batteries

Do Not Read Between The Lines

2025 was a year given for seeming them on the market.
You’ll note that the Panasonic exec talked about “average/mainstream” electric vehicles.
In other words, although they’ll be on the market, they won’t be price-competitive.

The batteries that we have today are more than adequate. I do not know why there is a hype about solid state batteries. If anything the military will not allow it to be used by civilian application until they have something better. They have to have the edge.

Another Euro point of view

Adequate for you. For many others they are still too expensive for the type of range they expect from a car in a cold climate for example. But we are getting there, quite fast actually.

Don’t say … Honda and Toyota are waiting. Must be around the corner, corner shorter than a decade long corner. I say this Panasonic dude has no clue what he’s talking about, right? … eyeroll

Sounds like the same story we hear in related articles: like ICE manufacturers saying that BEVs are not ready for mass adoption.

So everyone here is going to say that Panasonic is a laggard stuck with current technology, right?

Oh wait, Panasonic is a Tesla partner. Never mind…

One could argue that Panasonic is a laggard with regard to adopting new battery tech, because, like ICE manufacturers, emerging new tech could affect their established production and make it difficult to recoup their sunk investment.

Regardless of what their intentions are – whether it’s a reflection of what stage of research they’re at, or otherwise a reflection of their current PR policy – it’s not a big factor in current EV adoption, worst case it slows down the next generation of advancement if all the players play it safe.

The same can’t be said of ICE makers, their served us well when we didn’t have better options, but their products are now in direct opposition to solving our emerging existential crisis.

A lot of research focuses on solid state technology than can be easily fitted in existing production processes.

There are some exceptions — but these will take a long time to become cost-competitive, if ever.

Actually, being a Tesla partner could significantly improve their technological maneuverability. If Tesla wants it, Panasonic will make it happen because they really don’t have a whole lot of favorable options, as far as I can tell.

How would more capable batteries — opening a broader market — harm their business?…

Also, there is a lot of series-produced vehicles that aren’t “average/mainstream”.

Nice to hear that Panasonic’s thinking is in line with Tesla’s. Legacy automakers want to keep waiting until the perfect tech comes along that can let you “fill up” just as fast as gas when that’s not necessary. Current battery tech can give you 80% in around a half hour and that’s completely adequate for long distance travel, otherwise you just charge more slowly at home or work. Incremental improvements in batteries will likely reduce fast charge times even further in the near term, there’s no real excuse to wait for battery breakthroughs to produce EV’s.

If solid state batteries were ready for prime time they would already be in high end portable electronics.

Then cars.

Actually, drones come first. Some solid state battery makers indeed are claiming that they are already supplying small quantities to drone makers.