Factorial Energy’s 40-Ah battery cell uses the company’s Factorial Electrolyte System Technology (FEST). (Image: Factorial)

Although the automotive industry sees solid-state batteries as the next game-changer for EV driving range, performance and safety, the technology is projected to penetrate the market at a 5 percent rate at best by 2030, said one battery-development expert speaking at the 2023 Battery Show North America in Novi, MI. Another presenter said solid-state technology still has several significant challenges to overcome before being commercially viable for mass-market EVs.

Bill Kephart of P3 Group, an automotive-industry consultancy, said to expect a 3 percent to 5 percent penetration rate for solid-state batteries in 2030. He cited four factors — performance, manufacturability, supply chain, and cost — as the primary areas in which solid-state technology must improve before being able to reach high-volume potential.

Kephart said there are “very few know facts about manufacturability,” and added that the supply chain for solid-state batteries “is at a very low maturity.” He mentioned questions about the supply of solid electrolytes and lithium metal anodes as specific examples.

In a separate presentation titled “Status, Challenges and Needs of Solid-State Batteries, Alvaro Masias, Cell Technology Research Supervisor at Ford, said bluntly that while good progress has been made in development of solid-state batteries, it is “very difficult to see [the technology] would be cost-competitive in the near-term.”

Masias cited ongoing support from the United States Advanced Battery Consortium (USABC) as an enabler of ongoing R&D and noted that the USABC’s target of a battery chemistry to deliver an energy density of 450 watt-hours per kilogram requires a significant upgrade over current lithium-ion batteries, which offer around 350 Wh/kg and “doesn’t support our long-term goals.”

He said there is ongoing development of aspects of solid-state design, such as “hybrid” or semi-solid electrolytes, but there are any number of performance- and cost-related aspects of solid-state designs that remain unresolved. Masias displayed a graphic with a maze-like matrix of collaborating automakers, battery manufacturers, and startup companies and said most companies have diversified their battery-development investments to assure a reliable supply of proven technology while supporting R&D of advanced chemistries such as solid state.