The state of next-generation electric vehicle batteries

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Range anxiety continues to be the biggest barrier to the large scale adoption of Electric Vehicles (EVs). However, ongoing and significant improvements in battery technology will pave the way for an installed EV base of 100 million by 2028, according to global tech market advisory firm, ABI Research.


To alleviate range anxiety, the electric vehicle battery will need to be safer, cheaper, faster to charge, and have a high-energy density for greater range. Continued advancements in cell technology will ease anxiety and allow EVs to gain traction substantially.


Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries are the current standard for EVs, yet they have short life cycles and have a history of overheating. “Recent research around lithium-based chemistries has revolved around using different lithium-based batteries to provide better fire resistance, quicker charges, and longer life spans,” says James Hodgson, principal analyst at ABI Research.


However, while the Li-ion battery will continue to progress, it will be solid-state and lithium-silicon technologies that will be the real EVB game changer. Numerous investments from OEMs such as Volkswagen, BMW Group, and Daimler, have been made in solid-state technology and lithium-silicon technology companies, including QuantumScape, Solid Power, Enevate and Sila Nanotechnologies. These investments highlight how important these technologies will be for the future of EV batteries.


“The only way to significantly advance energy density is to add silicon to the Li-ion battery. The current approach of adding silicon in small incremental percentages (<10%) will enable energy density increases to 300Wh/kg over the next three to five years,” Hodgson explains.


Between 2023 and 2025, expect continually increasing silicon in batteries to the point where developments will enable silicon-dominant anodes. Given the research taking place in lithium-silicon batteries and the increasing percentage of silicon in EV batteries, ABI Research believes this is the next logical step. Silicon-dominant batteries would likely enable energy densities of up to 400Wh/kg by 2025. Most vehicles using this technology will likely have charging powers of over 300kW.


Silicon dominant anodes will be the primary solution until 2026, at the earliest, when solid-state battery architectures will start to be deployed and reach commercialization. Solid-state batteries will enable energy densities of at least 500Wh/kg and offer over 500kW charging power.


“Lithium-silicon and solid-state are the future technologies that will improve performance, hold more energy, and last longer at a lower cost. The addition of silicon alone over the next seven years will grow the EV installed base from 8 million in 2019 to 40 million in 2025, as consumers’ ‘range anxiety” slowly eases,” Hodgson concludes.


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