In the high-end electric car market, we see prices that rival those of their combustion engine peers. For example, the all-electric Porsche Taycan is cheaper than a less powerful Porsche Panamera. However, in the mass market, electric cars mostly struggle to flaunt attractive prices. Thus, a simple VW ID.3 is much more expensive than a Golf, while the Fiat 500e and Twingo Electric are displayed at much higher prices than their thermal range brethren. The electrified versions are certainly more powerful, but much less versatile with little autonomy.
This aspect, combined with a high price, is undoubtedly what explains the reasons for the Honda’s commercial failure, with 3,750 units sold in 2022 against 10,000 expected sales. If its style, handling and high-tech equipment were praised by the press, its low versatility finally got the better of its qualities.
Asked about the matter by our colleagues at The unityDave Gardner, vice president of business and sales for Honda US, said: “We really don’t believe that current lithium-ion battery technology is the long-term solution. Solid-state batteries, a still-developing technology that has only been used in a handful of prototype electric vehicles, will be a game-changer because it will allow EVs to be offered at lower prices, around what a good internal combustion engine vehicle costs. .”
Dave Gardner admits that solid state batteries (also called solid state batteries) are not for tomorrow. He says, however, that Honda is actively working on its development, increasing R&D efforts in the area and now trying small-scale testing. Honda announced on September 19 that it was investing $310 million in an experimental line project to test mass production of solid-state batteries.
As a reminder, current batteries use a liquid lithium salt electrolyte. The electrolyte is a conductive substance that connects the two inner terminals of the battery. By using a solid electrolyte, energy density is increased, as is charging speed, lifespan, and safety. Stacking the layers (anode, electrolyte, cathode) also saves significant space.
As lithium-ion batteries have gone from a price of $1,200/kWh of stored energy to $132/kWh in the last decade, the raw materials needed to manufacture them are subject to chain problems. reduction. Likewise, the price of lithium has exploded, going from €5/kg in 2021 to over €35/kg in May 2022 – and the trend is the same for cobalt and nickel. In other words, the price of batteries could increase by 15% if the situation continued.
For some manufacturers, as long as the price of energy storage is not less than $50/kWh, parity will be impossible. However, that cost seems difficult to achieve with current lithium-ion technology. Solid state batteries are also very expensive to manufacture, but economies of scale are not there yet. Also, using cheaper materials would allow you to divide your cost by two.
Toyota and Nissan are also working on the matter. Toyota even has a rolling LQ prototype that runs on a solid battery, but the battery life of the latter is not conclusive at the moment. Some people remember the BlueCar Boloré, which offered a battery of this type, but the need to maintain an operating temperature around 60°C forced the car to stay on almost permanently… the miracle recipe, which will allow the electric car to be as cheap and versatile as its thermal version.