Should You Buy an Electric Car Now or Wait for New Battery Tech? video     – CNET

Should You Buy an Electric Car Now or Wait for New Battery Tech? video – CNET

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Electric Vehicles

Speaker 1: Well, let’s see if you could get longer range, faster charging, longer charged life and a lower cost in an electric car. <laugh> yeah, I bet even you haters would buy one, but here’s the thing. Battery technology moves very gradually. That’s why those things have been hard to radically improve, but that could be changing in just a few years. Here’s why you should be watching some key new battery technologies. Even if you don’t like EVs

Speaker 1: [00:00:30] A company called Sila takes a standard lithium ion battery and says, okay, the graphite that’s in there is a big part of its bulk, about 15% of its weight and causes some issues in terms of chemistry. What if we take that out and replace it with something an anode made of Silicon? Now it’s still a lithium ion battery, but S claims that one component change can yield up to 20, [00:01:00] to even 40% more energy density, more charge per a volume of battery. That’s a huge deal. That’s like saying today’s Ford F-150 gets 25 and next year it’s gonna get 35 MPG. It’s kind of analogous in terms of what a step change that would be. Sila also says that higher charge density would be brought on board charged a lot faster. Mercedes will be the first customer to offer this tech as an option in the new electric E [00:01:30] Q G the new GVA in 2025.

Speaker 1: Now that’s interesting because energy density in a battery is especially important in heavy Lardy vehicles because they need a big battery to move their larger mass. That big battery contributes to their larger mass, for which they need a bigger battery to move. And the whole thing becomes a very unvirtuous circle. So whenever you can deliver higher charge density in a given electric car battery, it tends to benefit [00:02:00] the big Lardy cars better than the small efficient ones. Now, other companies in the hunt to perfect Silicon based lithium ion batteries include a company called group 14 and one D also names that are being watched by many

Speaker 1: Now at the Pacific Northwest national laboratory affiliated with the department of energy, they just recently announced a breakthrough in a sodium eye on battery design. They [00:02:30] say a sodium ion battery is going to replace lithium ion and leave a lot of its headaches behind. For example, it’ll have a whole lot of temperature, flexibility where lithium ion batteries have to be temperature managed pretty carefully. They say a sodium ion battery is not really a very toxic thing to make or get rid of. It also has the ability to take on a lot of charges and not develop that degrading memory as much as other battery technologies. And if you’ve laid away concerned about some of these EV crash [00:03:00] and fire videos, you’ve seen PNL says a sodium ion battery is essentially self extinguishing. Now sodium ion batteries have had a reputation as being just a little too unstable for use in wide scale production. But that’s what PNL says. They’ve recently had a breakthrough in conquering. Now they admit these have nowhere near the energy density of today’s lithium ion batteries. They’re tackling that next. They also say they’re gonna try to get most. And then eventually all of the cobalt out [00:03:30] of sodium ion formulations. And as you know, that’s kind of a good guy. There’s both a contentious and an environmental concern around the element cobalt in today’s EV batteries.

Speaker 1: Now let’s talk about some companies chasing solid state battery tech. This one’s kind of a darling on a lot of people’s lips right now. Solid state means it isn’t this. Now don’t try this at home, but if you did cut into a double, a lithium battery, you’d first see [00:04:00] that it wants to catch a nasty habit. That future battery makers would love to tame and inside. You’ll see it sort of a soft and moist affair. Solid state batteries have hard materials compressed and mounted together. And they aren’t like the guts of that battery. We just saw now the fact that their solid state isn’t necessarily the reason they’re better, but the kinds of materials that yield that solid state are what makes them better in four major ways, higher energy density, [00:04:30] which could mean an EV with more range from the same size battery or today’s same range from a much smaller battery that’s lighter and cheaper, faster charging envisioning a world where charging almost entirely under 30 minutes or less is common, no longer elite longer cycle life.

Speaker 1: You know how lithium I on batteries are the more you use them and charge them the less they take on a charge. Solid state batteries have inspired GM to envision a million mile life battery in the future [00:05:00] and thermal stability, solid state batteries promise less likelihood of thermal runaway, which can cause fires. Of course, which have given a number of car makers, both a PR black eye, some tragic headlines around their vehicles and some very expensive recalls. So who’s in the hunt to deliver all this magic. One of the key ones people are watching is called solid power. They grab headlines lately when they announce they’re starting small volume production with the backing of Ford and BMW and notably, [00:05:30] they envision the production of their solid state batteries as taking place on essentially the same production lines that currently produce non solid state lithium ion batteries. That is a huge industrial efficiency for an industry that is just recently thrown money at lithium ion production lines, and would like to amortize those a little longer than just a few more years, solid power. Thanks. They’ll be into mass production. As soon as 2024.

Speaker 1: Also highly talked [00:06:00] about is a company called quantum scape. And they’re typically mentioned in the same breath with their partner Volkswagen VW says solid state battery tech is no less than quote the most promising approach to electro mobility of the future. That’s a big deal. Now what quantum scape does is they use a ceramic separator between the parts of their solid state battery without getting into the minutiae. It yields a battery that works really well and has very efficient charge cycles, and lots of them [00:06:30] now solid state batteries. Aren’t just coming from solid state battery companies. Toyota was recently written up BYK in Japan as being the largest single patent holder on solid state battery technology. Not some startup out there. And Toyota says they will have a car on the market with solid state batteries in very limited numbers as soon as 2025.

Speaker 1: Okay? So with all the things I’ve told you are coming, should you wait to buy an electric car? It’s [00:07:00] a question people ask all the time, especially when they think about battery breakthroughs, that seem to be in the offing. Here’s the thing though, the sweet spot for most of these in terms of getting to market and getting to some scale and showing up in popularly priced cars is five, maybe seven years out. And that might be optimistic. And on top of that, you know how I feel about buying the latest tech in a brand new car? I don’t like it. I want you to buy a late model, lightly used car. So now take a five to seven year [00:07:30] window to introduction and then give those cars two to three years to come back as lease returns, puts us a decade out. That’s too long to wait.

Speaker 1: If you have any interest in getting an electric car at all, a decade is not something I think you should spend on the sidelines. You lose too much opportunity to gain the benefits of even today’s quote, inferior EVs. And they’ll certainly look that way in seven to 10 years, but you’re still ahead of the game by getting one. Now, if you believe an EV is [00:08:00] gonna improve things for you in whatever areas you care about, and don’t forget the key maximum about electric cars, the one that works for you today and has a comfortable margin. So even if it loses some range, it’ll still work for you tomorrow and tomorrow. And tomorrow is the car you need. You don’t need to buy an EV that has a whole bunch of additional range that is basically bragging range that you are not going to use almost any of the time. Remember most people, maybe you, when you buy an EV you [00:08:30] don’t only have an EV you’ve got another car. You’ve got a combustion car for any outlier cases that the electric car doesn’t handle. Well, take a realistic approach. Don’t wait for these technologies. If you’re on the cusp of buying an electric car, I don’t expect you to check out for a decade and wait for solid state or sodium. I on just know that they’re coming for the next DV you buy.

Brian Cooley

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