Honestly, this one wasn’t planned: last night, I wrote about a new study concluding that until EV battery costs get down to $100 per kWh, most US consumers would be better off going with an electric car with less than 100 miles of range rather than splurging for a long-range electric car. Now, battery startup Sakti3 is saying that its high-performance, sold-state lithium-ion batteries should be able to get down to $100 per kWh. That would make 100+ miles of range more logical for more people.
Of course, “could” is the key word right now, and no timeframe has been estimated, as far as I have seen. However, Sakti3 apparently has a lot going for it and support from some industry insiders.
What $100 per kWh Could Mean
Tesla’s batteries reportedly cost it $200-300 per kWh, and they are said to be the best bargain on the market. Of course, Tesla and partner Panasonic are supposed to be getting their battery costs down on their own, especially through the scaling up of production at their planned Gigafactory, so let’s not get into implications for Tesla here. But if Sakti3 was able to get manufacturing going at $100 kWh within a few years (a big “if” in the world of battery startups), and Nissan was to use these batteries in its LEAF or some younger LEAF sibling, that could mean an electric car with over 250 miles of range for under $30,000 (the average new car in the US goes for over $32,000)… if we assume $300 per kWh for Nissan’s current batteries (Nissan’s current battery costs may very well be higher).
At such a point, the electric car would be cleaner; for many people, cheaper; greener; not dependent on foreign oil; more convenient to recharge (by a landslide — just plug in once in awhile before going to bed); and more fun to drive.
Of course, another route (and a smarter route according to my eyes) would be to double the LEAF’s range while also cutting the price by several thousand dollars (again). That would be killer, imho. Of course, one model alone wouldn’t bring an EV revolution, but the battery would surely be available to multiple automakers.
Also, for the record, GM Ventures invested in Sakti3 back in 2010, after partnering up more than a year earlier, so this is far enough along that it is a technology that GM is putting some money on.
Update: One of our commenters was apt to point to work Toyota is also doing on solid-state lithium-ion batteries. Here’s his comment, which references the CleanTechnica story linked above:
Everyone thinks Toyota is all about hydrogen. I’ve commented on Toyota’s solid state lithium efforts a few times now. I kept it short because I was afraid I might be getting tiresome.They’re claiming 3x energy density at 1/2 cost/kw compared to 2012 lithium, i.e., same range cost half as much with a battery three times smaller or same size battery goes 3x as far at about a third more cost. Field testing in 2015. Should be on the market by decade’s end.
One of the preeminent sites on these matters CleanTechnica has even covered the story:
Having some competition from a different outfit might spur Toyota on.
Back to Sakti3
With that context out of the way, let’s delve a little further into Sakti3. From that link to its homepage, we get a listing of some of Sakti3’s accolades:
“Sakti’s battery technology was recognized with IHS CERAWeek’s Energy Innovation Pioneer Award (2014), by MIT’s Technology Review Magazine as one of the Top 50 Most Innovative Companies (2012) and World’s Top Ten, representing the “energy” category (2011). The senior team has over 100 years’ collective experience in research, manufacturing, and leadership. The company is a spinout of the University of Michigan, where its founding team created laboratories, published over 80 papers on battery technology, and demonstrated its first early prototypes. Financed by the world’s top cleantech fund, Khosla Ventures, and the world’s largest automotive investor, General Motors Ventures, the company has been recognized for its innovative approaches in Inc., Time, Automotive Engineering, the New York Times, Washington Post, NPR and other media.”
You can find out more about Sakti3’s technology and team at those links in the quote, so just head on over there if you want more. But since I can’t resist, here’s the first paragraph of the “technology” section:
“Sakti’s vacuum deposition technology was invented using advanced numerical models, coupled with real laboratory data on materials. The team began its work on computers. We methodically modeled the most promising, low cost materials, and developed battery compositions and configurations that offered great cell performance. The team also modeled the scale up of battery production, right from the start. We developed plant models that enabled us to create the right processes on the right tools. Our aim was to create the most scalable, flexible and profitable methods possible.”
Sounds quite promising to me, and aren’t Khosla Ventures and GM Ventures due for a breakthrough by now?
For Solar Support, Too
Update (Aug 23, 11am CET): One of our readers chimed in below with a note regarding the help such a battery could be for home solar owners as well. It’s an important point, so I’m throwing it in here:
This opens up GREAT opportunity for home PV penetration as well as long range BEV market penetration. More home solar PV will soon have battery storage, not just over night but maybe also for the next rainy day. This, coupled with long-range BEVs with plug-out capability will mean home coverage for many rainy days in a row. So, many homes may go off grid completely, assisted by daytime at-work charging. This will boost solar installation not just at home but also in the workplace leading to workplace charging and discharging to help balance out the grid to permit even higher wind and solar penetration. A long-range BEV will be able to get power from at-work charging to bring it home for home use when goes off grid if there will a long string of rainy days!
Soon, long-range BEVs and FCEVs with plug-out capability will be must-haves for most people, and sales will skyrocket, just like smart phones of today. This shall complete the EV Revolution for a complete takeover of the market with this uber chic trend or fashion in CleanTechnica!
Image by Sakti3
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