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Coming to an EV Near You – 15 Minute Fully Charged Battery

Tesla Model S
iKnowAuto Staff
All electric vehicle brands are on a sales tear in the U.S. For EV fans, the exciting news is the debut of the highly anticipated Chevy Bolt didn’t just steal market share from other EV brands, it actually grew the market. That said, EVs still only account for less than 2% of all cars and trucks sold in America and there are two big reasons why.
JAN 24, 2018
They have limited range between refueling. They take too long to recharge.

Battery electric vehicles are a cool idea whose time is about to come. They are environmentally friendly, they can outperform supercars (it’s all about the torque baby), they have fewer maintenance issues, and their price is falling as more competitors enter the market.

But then there’s that refueling problem. Mainstream car buyers want a fast charging car battery. They don’t want to risk forgetting to plug the EV in at night and find themselves waiting 3 to 6 hours in the morning for a recharge. Currently, Tesla claims its Model 3 can add 62 miles of range per hour using its High-Power Wall Connection (HPWC). The Tesla Model 3 can deliver a fully charged battery in 3 hours. The Ford Focus claims a recharge time of 3.6 hours and the Nissan Leaf says 4 hours and it’s good to go.

None of these claims should be taken at face value for comparison purposes because there are too many variables. These include the size of the battery, speed of the recharger and speed of the electrical source. The fact that you almost need a degree in electrical engineering to know the best way to get go juice in your vehicle is a huge drawback for EVs.

But that’s all coming to an end.

2017 Honda Clarity
2017 Honda Clarity Interior
Why Two Major Manufacturers are Betting on Solid-State Car Batteries

The big advantage of a solid-state car battery over existing EV batteries is their ability to store twice the amount of energy in the same space. Theoretically, that means you could take Tesla’s 240-mile range and increase it to 480 miles using a solid-state battery of the same size.

The other principal advantage is that solid-state batteries are easy to miniaturize because they don’t use water or paste. A smaller battery can charge faster than a larger battery. Honda’s approach focuses on how far a battery will take a car with a 15-minute charge rather than extending the range. Tesla’s 240 miles is a respectable number. If Honda can equal that with a smaller, high energy density solid-state battery, they can reduce the charge time significantly.

Toyota has come to the same conclusion, but they are taking it an important step further. The other big challenge to a fast charging car battery is the method of charging itself. The capacity of the battery is easy to calculate. However, just like you can’t put out a house fire with a garden hose because the diameter of the hose is too small to allow the amount of water needed, the method used to “fill” the battery determines how fast it can reach capacity.

This issue is why you need the advanced degree in electrical engineering. Currently there is no simple, universal solution. There are too many variables both in where the power is coming from (wall socket or HPWC equivalent) and how fast the power can be accepted via the charger (or two) onboard the vehicle.

Toyota thinks they have the solution, but they are not saying anything. If they have a workable system, it would almost have to be adapted by all EV manufacturers. Talk about a strong market position.

More Actors Exploring Fast Charging Car Batteries

We’ve focused on Toyota and Honda because they are two of the biggest car manufacturers in the industry. Their past performance lends a certain credibility to their claims. But they aren’t alone in the pursuit of rapid charging EV batteries.

Here’s a list of three more “out there” ideas:
Prototype of 50Ah next-generation SCiBTM
Toshiba

This electronics manufacturer believes the answer to a fast charging EV battery is improving on lithium ion technology. They claim to have doubled the energy density in their new lithium ion battery and can deliver enough juice to a 32-kWh battery to carry a compact EV 200 miles in just 6 minutes. So far, no auto manufacturers have taken up Toshiba’s offer to power their new RVs.

Fisker Emotion
Fisker

Although they haven’t built one yet, Fisker announced they are filing patents for a new type of battery technology that will have a range of 500 miles and allow refueling in one minute or less. The press release was a bit vague on how this quantum leap in solid state technology works, but claims it will be the game changer for the electrification of transportation.

Tesla Roadster
Tesla

Tesla has a high-tech response to a low-tech solution. Your battery takes too long to charge? Swap it out for a new one. The company has filed a patent for an autonomous battery swapping station that would be installed in all their refueling stations. The device looks like a service lift, raises the car, disconnects and removes the battery and installs a freshly charged replacement. It does all this in 15 minutes.

About the only thing you can count on, is the future of EV cars is going to see some dramatic changes in the next five years. Buckle up!