Nissan unveiled a prototype solid-state battery plant on Friday, a key step in the automaker’s goal of developing and delivering an electric vehicle powered by next-generation battery technology by 2028.
Materials, design and manufacturing processes developed during prototype production at the Nissan Research Center will be used in a pilot production line at Nissan’s Yokohama plant in 2024. Finally a Nissan. Nissan aims to fully integrate solid-state batteries into pickup trucks and other vehicles as part of the Ambition 2030 program, a long-term plan to achieve half of global sales by the end of the decade.
Nissan and many other companies see battery technology as the key to affordable, mass-produced long-range electric vehicles. This has prompted a growing list of automakers, startups and investors to bet on solid-state batteries, a technology that uses a solid electrolyte rather than the liquid or gel electrolyte used in lithium-ion batteries.
“To make electric vehicles more democratic, the most important innovation is the battery,” Kazuhiro Doi, head of the Nissan Research Center, said at a briefing.
Nissan said improvements in solid-state battery technology could make electric vehicles much cheaper than gasoline-powered vehicles by the end of the decade. Specifically, Nissan said that the cost of all solid-state batteries could be reduced to $75/kWh in fiscal year 2028 and to $65/kWh thereafter, bringing EVs to the same price point as cars with gasoline engine.
Solid-state batteries have twice the energy density of conventional lithium-ion batteries, which in theory means longer range and faster charging times, while using cheaper materials than other modern electric vehicles. In addition to a higher energy density, these batteries last longer and are considered safer than lithium-ion batteries. That’s why a number of automakers, including General Motors, Stelantis, Mercedes-Benz and Ford, have invested in solid-state battery startups as they seek to electrify their portfolios. Volkswagen-backed QuantumScape plans to start selling them in 2024, with a production Toyota model in 2025.
However, marketing solid-state batteries for electric vehicles has proven challenging. Batteries are currently expensive to manufacture and difficult to scale.
And while the benefits are many, even Nissan acknowledges that solid-state batteries are not without risks. The liquid electrolyte present in modern lithium-ion batteries can be a fire hazard. But doubling the energy density in a battery can also be dangerous.