Positives and Negatives: Honda Weighing Benefits of Solid-state Batteries

Honda Urban EV Concept unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show - Image: Honda UK

Tightening global emission regulations are pushing the world’s automakers to put all fuel-saving options on the table. Electric cars are an obvious answer, but range anxiety and consumer concerns about battery life continue to dog vehicles powered solely by electrons.

With a finite amount of space in their vehicles, manufacturers are constantly looking for efficiencies when laying out plans for EVs. According to a report from Reuters, Honda is considering developing solid-state batteries for use in their future EVs.

Solid-state batteries have an abundance of advantages over the lithium-ion units found in the majority of today’s electrified vehicles. Relying on a gel- or liquid-based electrolyte, lithium-ion batteries use that fluid as a pathway for electricity as the unit discharges. As with any technology relying on components that are in a state of flux, lithium-ion batteries will eventually weaken and lose performance over time.

Solid-state batteries, as suggested by the name, deploy a solid conductive material instead. This battery type is said to handle thermal loads better than its mundane brethren, while also holding an edge in energy density. Without getting into too much detail and putting everyone to sleep, these advantages will allow EVs that deploy solid-state batteries to potentially operate efficiently in a wider range of temperatures and pack more juice into a smaller battery footprint.

At present, solid-state batteries are eye-wateringly expensive, preventing manufacturers from using them in the current fleet of EVs. As OEMs are not exactly in the business of losing money, this budget-hoovering battery technology has traditionally remained solidly on the RD back burner.

Now, with most manufacturers bumping up against the limitations of existing battery tech, solid-state batteries are getting a second look. Reuters reports that Honda is looking into sinking a few dollars in the technology, while BMW announced just earlier this week it’s teaming up with an American company called Solid Power. Toyota, which said on Monday that every vehicle it makes will have an electrified version by 2025 (plus ten new EVs by the early 2020s), is also hard at work attempting its own solid-state breakthrough.

Honda showed off several natty EV concepts at various auto shows around the world this year, most notably the retro-themed Urban EV in Germany and the cool Sports EV in Japan. If the House of Soichiro can figure out solid-state batteries over the next five years, you can bet it’ll find its way into production pretty quickly.

[Image: Honda]