Automotive News recently spent some time at the special factory-within-a-factory at Nissan’s Oppama manufacturing plant to take a look at where the company’s advanced solid-state battery research is at. The takeaway? These promising batteries present some sobering challenges before they’ll power a new generation of Nissan EVs, and shed some light on the hurdles other automakers will have to overcome on the road to mass-producing them. But Nissan is confident the problems can be solved by 2028, the company told AN.
There are several fascinating revelations in the full story, which is highly recommended reading (subscription required). For one, despite a lack of inflammable liquid inside the battery packs, Nissan doesn’t want to bank on the advanced batteries being safe, or fire-proof. More power-dense than a conventional lithium-ion battery, there’s a lot of energy stored inside, which could produce something akin to a “bomb” according to a quote by Kazuhiro Doi, corporate vice president in charge of advanced battery research, to AN.
And then there’s the issue of scaling the production process up. The current assembly line is a manual process, AN reports, with workers mixing materials by hand. All told, Nissan can apparently produce only a few battery pouches (akin to li-ion cells) a month. At the current rate of production, it would take 8.3 years to build enough to power a single EV, according to production figures provided to AN. Obviously Nissan will need to develop mass-production equipment to improve this rate by an order of magnitude if it’s going to come close to hitting its targets.
Nissan thinks it can solve these issues, and is sticking to its 2028 goal of bringing the solid-state batteries—which have many advantages over lithium-ion technology—to market. It’s already figured out the solution to tricky solid-state issues, like charging in low temperature, Doi told AN. So the battery team is cautiously optimistic about the company’s prospects.
Nissan’s larger rival, Toyota, is also taking solid-state battery development very seriously, recently announcing a massive investment in developing the technology—and Toyota is definitely not alone. With so many engineers, and so many corporate dollars, going to perfect the tech for mass-production, we think it’s more a matter of when than if you’ll see solid-state EVs on sale at a dealer near you.
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