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Mazda: Solid state batteries will only provide incremental gains

We are all holding out for solid state batteries, but are they the answer to all of the problems we have with battery density at the moment?

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Many are placing solid state batteries at the centre of the revolution for electric vehicles, but Mazda thinks they may not be the saving grace everybody is hoping for.

Christian Schultze, Mazda’s director of technology research and technical regulation compliance, told CarExpert that while solid state batteries are appealing, there’s more work to be done.

“As you know, for example, Russia is the biggest producer of nickel, currently in the world, and I don’t know how the raw material availability for the future will be. Maybe there will be some changes. We all know now that we are looking into more and more independence and multi sourcing,” Shultze said.

“But very clearly the drive for the solid state battery is ongoing at multiple places around the world. I think we should not expect that it is two-times or three-times better than the batteries we have. It’s maybe 30 per cent better, or maybe a little bit more.”

“And in this way it will have a clearly an advantage. I hope it has also benefits in terms not only in weight, but also in terms of package energy density, so that it’s really easier to fit them into the car.

“But it will also very much depend on on the cost levels. At this point in time. This is a real research activity, but we need to get it if we want it into a car at acceptable prices which is payable by the consumer.”

Shultze went on to say that while solid state batteries are making sense in labs, moving the technology from a lab to scaled production may not ever make sense for existing battery manufacturers.

“But I wonder that if you’ve got billions and billions going into a certain type of technology for manufacturing [lithium-ion], how easy will it be to switch? Do they need to amortize whatever they’ve invested?

“For me is also an interesting question because scaling up what they are doing in the lab I think is one thing, but then scaling up production… really scaling up production. That takes a lot of time. And what do you do with the plants that you’ve just built?”

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Paul Maric
Paul Maric

Paul Maric is an Australian car expert & automotive journalist based in Melbourne, Australia. Paul is co-founder of CarExpert.com.au & formerly part of the CarAdvice founding team.

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