When an entrepreneur realized all the common complaints with electric vehicles originate from the battery and not the car itself, he created an entirely new battery system for them—and earned himself the backing of automotive giant Volkswagen in the process.
Long charging times, limited range, higher costs, weight, and limited cabin space: These are all negative selling points that have to do with the battery-powered nature of electric vehicles (EVs), partially because the technology in them has so far been limited to banks of lithium-ion batteries of ever-increasing size.
Jagdeep Singh started a company called QuantumScape that’s using solid-state technology for their batteries.
Thanks to immediate valuation from investors like Bill Gates, QuantumScape is now worth $3.3 billion, and major backers Volkswagen have already committed to using Singh’s technology in their next generation of EVs in 2024.
Along with presenting the problems of cost, size, and charging time, lithium-ion batteries require materials known as rare-earth minerals—which tend to be costly and environmentally destructive to mine.
Replacing the liquid graphite-silicon anode electrolyte at the center of a lithium-ion battery with a solid ceramic material, QuantumScape’s batteries provide significantly increased energy density and lower cost, along with removing a significant fire hazard in the form of the liquid anode.
Most importantly though, a solid-state battery can go from 0% charge to 80% in just 15 minutes—light speed compared to its competitors.
This will not only make EVs viable for things like road trip vacations, but also as transportation for an entirely new class of consumer: apartment owners. EV drivers with garages have been able to charge up overnight, making the question of range a non-issue.
However, waiting at public charging stations for 12 hours is out of the question for those who want to help speed the transition away from fossil fuels, but who doesn’t have a garage or reliable exterior electricity access with which to charge their car.
What you need to do is make electric cars competitive with combustion engines on all metrics,” says Singh in a Fast Company article.
“Those metrics include not only cost but range, charge time, safety, the life of the car. And that’s exactly why we’re doing what we’re doing with the solid-state batteries.
”We believe this also allows car companies to make electric cars that are much closer to combustion engine rivals than traditional batteries do.
”So we think that kind of breakthrough is exactly what’s required for people to start replacing their combustion cars with EVs the next time they’re out in the market to buy a car.”