As of late, Hyundai has shown several signs of moving away from fuel cell hydrogen and investing more into battery-powered electric vehicles. For example, the Korean automaker recently confirmed plans for a new platform for long-range EVs.
Now it sounds like this new platform could also make use of a next generation battery technology.
The Korea Herald reported this week that Hyundai has “pilot-scale battery production facilities” making solid-state batteries:
“Hyundai is developing solid-state batteries through its Namyang R&D Center’s battery precedence development team and it has secured a certain level of technology,”
They are reportedly working on the technology on their own, without the help of popular Korean battery manufacturers, like LG Chem, Samsung SDI, or SK Innovation.
Solid-state batteries are thought to be a lot safer than common li-ion cells and could have more potential for higher energy density, but we have yet to see a company capable of producing it in large-scale and at an attractive price point competitive with li-ion.
Several companies have since invested to bring them to market, like Dyson with the acquisition of Michigan-based solid-state battery startup Sakti3 for $90 million and plans to build an important $1 billion battery factory. Bosch is also investing in the technology, which it believes will allow 50 kWh battery packs (~200+ miles for a compact vehicle) to weigh less than 200 kg.
Some automakers are also tentatively playing with the technology, like Ford and Toyota, but this move by Hyundai could be the biggest by a major automaker yet.
More recently, John Goodenough, who is credited as the co-inventor of the li-ion battery cell, claimed a solid-state battery breakthrough that could allow economical production of the technology with 3 times the energy density of current li-ion batteries. His team produced prototype cells, but they could still be years away from commercialization – if ever.
While the cost of current li-ion batteries is falling fast enough to soon reach parity with internal combustion engines, there are always “next-gen” battery technologies being taunted as “li-ion killers”. Solid-state is a recurring contender.
With the Ioniq Electric and an upcoming all-electric SUV, Hyundai is clearly not waiting on the technology to roll out more EVs, but it’s still interesting see another company jumping on the “solid-state bandwagon”.