The cheaper battery could be lucrative as more people turn to electric cars in the aftermath of the Volkswagen emissions scandal
German electronics firm Bosch says it will have a solid state battery on the market by 2020 that will double the range of electric cars at half the cost of today’s batteries.
Today the cheapest electric cars, which cost around $30,000, typically have a range of less than 100 miles.
Once commercialised, this new battery could give affordable electric cars a range of over 200 miles per charge – and at a lower price.
The acceleration in the development of this new battery comes with Bosch’s acquisition of Californian startup Seeo, which already has sample cells of this battery.
According to Seeo, they have come up with a new way to make lithium batteries without a liquid electrolyte. The batteries need no cooling system and won’t catch on fire the way a traditional lithium ion battery can. They are also significantly lighter and cost less to manufacture, compared to the battery in a Tesla Model S, for instance, which weighs 1,200 pounds and costs $12,000.
“Disruptive start-up technology is meeting the broad systems knowledge and financial resources of a multinational company,” says Dr. Volkmar Denner, the chairman of the board of management of Robert Bosch GmbH.
For years, automakers and suppliers have been trying to create more powerful batteries. Michigan-based startup Sakti3 (which James Dyson invested $15m in earlier this year) and Quantumscape are also working on solid-state batteries for electric cars, having partnered with General Motors and Volkswagen Group, respectively.
But according to MIT Technology Review, the energy storage capacity of some other similar batteries – at least at the size needed in electric cars – has been less than what Seeo has achieved.
This news comes on the heels of Volkswagen’s emissions-cheating scandal, which revealed that 11 million VW car engines pumped out 40 times the allowable smog-forming pollution.
Analysts have said this could lead to a rise in hybrid and electric vehicle production as automakers work to reach strict federal fuel regulations by the middle of next decade.
Already, reports predict that more than a third of all new European cars will be electrically powered – the majority as plug-in hybrids. If Bosch could pull this off, it could be the dominant battery producer in a very lucrative market.