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The First Battery Breakthrough Story Of 2020 Comes From Nikola Motors. There Will Be Many More.

Trevor Milton, CEO of Nikola Motors, claims his company had acquired a startup that makes lithium-ion batteries that are smaller, lighter, and cheaper. Could it be true?

Trevor Milton, CEO of Nikola Motors, is the first person in 2020 to claim a fantastic, not gonna believe it, absolutely game-changing lithium-ion battery breakthrough that will double the range of EVs, lower costs, and cure the heartbreak of psoriasis. According to NBC News, Milton announced this week “the Holy Grail of batteries. We are not talking about small improvements; we are talking about doubling the range of BEVs and hydrogen-electric vehicles around the world.”

Nikola Motors

Image credit: Nikola Motors

Wanna know more? Fuhgedabowdit. Milton declined to offer any specifics, details, or other information except to say his company has acquired the start-up that made the discovery and will have more to say once the acquisition is completed sometime this year. According to NBC, he did offer these tantalizing tidbits, however.

The breakthrough supposedly relies on modifications to current lithium-ion batteries rather than replacing them entirely. Those modifications involve removing the binder material and electric current collectors used in today’s cells, resulting in smaller, lighter batteries with faster charging capability. The new and improved batteries are said to be able to handle 2000 charge/discharge cycles — about double the standard for today’s batteries.

But don’t put the cart before the horse here. ABI Research, a technology consulting firm, tells NBC it could take several years for such new technology to become commercially viable. Henrik Fisker has been making noises about a similar “Holy Grail” battery breakthrough for years now, but no actual batteries have appeared. Claims are easy. Results are hard. Caterpillar, at least, believes the Fisker solid state battery may have potential.

It’s fair to say skeptics abound. Milton has a reputation for being a self-important blowhard. First, the name Nikola Motors is a blatant rip-off. If Nikola Tesla had a middle name, someone would try to usurp it to give their new EV company some instant cachet. Second, Nikola Motors began by promising heavy duty trucks powered by hydrogen fuel cells before switching to primarily lithium-ion batteries. Third, it got into a public pissing contest with Tesla over the design of its semi tractor, which bears an astonishing resemblance to the Tesla Semi. Obviously somebody copied somebody, but who did what and when is still not clear.

So, is the announcement from Nikola Motors more than just puffery? “We’ll see,” said the Zen master.


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Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his homes in Florida and Connecticut or anywhere else the Singularity may lead him. You can follow him on Twitter but not on any social media platforms run by evil overlords like Facebook.


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