Positives and Negatives: Honda Weighing Benefits of Solid-state Batteries

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy

Tightening global emission regulations are pushing the world’s automakers to put all fuel-saving options on the table. Electric cars are an obvious answer, but range anxiety and consumer concerns about battery life continue to dog vehicles powered solely by electrons.

With a finite amount of space in their vehicles, manufacturers are constantly looking for efficiencies when laying out plans for EVs. According to a report from Reuters, Honda is considering developing solid-state batteries for use in their future EVs.

Solid-state batteries have an abundance of advantages over the lithium-ion units found in the majority of today’s electrified vehicles. Relying on a gel- or liquid-based electrolyte, lithium-ion batteries use that fluid as a pathway for electricity as the unit discharges. As with any technology relying on components that are in a state of flux, lithium-ion batteries will eventually weaken and lose performance over time.

Solid-state batteries, as suggested by the name, deploy a solid conductive material instead. This battery type is said to handle thermal loads better than its mundane brethren, while also holding an edge in energy density. Without getting into too much detail and putting everyone to sleep, these advantages will allow EVs that deploy solid-state batteries to potentially operate efficiently in a wider range of temperatures and pack more juice into a smaller battery footprint.

At present, solid-state batteries are eye-wateringly expensive, preventing manufacturers from using them in the current fleet of EVs. As OEMs are not exactly in the business of losing money, this budget-hoovering battery technology has traditionally remained solidly on the R&D back burner.

Now, with most manufacturers bumping up against the limitations of existing battery tech, solid-state batteries are getting a second look. Reuters reports that Honda is looking into sinking a few dollars in the technology, while BMW announced just earlier this week it’s teaming up with an American company called Solid Power. Toyota, which said on Monday that every vehicle it makes will have an electrified version by 2025 (plus ten new EVs by the early 2020s), is also hard at work attempting its own solid-state breakthrough.

Honda showed off several natty EV concepts at various auto shows around the world this year, most notably the retro-themed Urban EV in Germany and the cool Sports EV in Japan. If the House of Soichiro can figure out solid-state batteries over the next five years, you can bet it’ll find its way into production pretty quickly.

[Image: Honda]

Matthew Guy
Matthew Guy

Matthew buys, sells, fixes, & races cars. As a human index of auto & auction knowledge, he is fond of making money and offering loud opinions.

More by Matthew Guy

Join the conversation
3 of 24 comments
  • Probert Probert on Dec 22, 2017

    Everything has a trade off. In the computer world SSDs are fast and have no moving parts, but they wear out with heavy use. That's why they have extra capacity and trim software to replace capacity as it fails. We're just talking pushing electrons here so I'd guess a solid state battery may have this issue as well.

    • Art Vandelay Art Vandelay on Dec 23, 2017

      Enterprise class sad's have gotten really good though, if spendy and even the consumer grade ones will typically last beyond the point they go obsolete. But yeah, with no trim functionality, solid state memory goes quickly. Drop a camera grade sd card in your android phone and set it up to use the card as system memory. Then repeat in 8 months or so when it dies.

  • D. Saxton D. Saxton on Dec 22, 2017

    Wish Honda would build that concept car!! It reminds me of my beloved Honda 600 sedans(I owned nine of them at one time). even in an electric only model it would be something I would consider for a second car for local jaunts.

  • Juan Let's do an 1000 mile drive and see who gets there first.
  • Eliyahu CVT needed for MPG. Outback is indeed the legacy of, err, the Legacy.
  • Gayneu I can comment on these. My wife always thought the Minis were "cute" so I bought her a used 2005 (non-S, 5 speed) for one of her "special" birthdays. She loved it and I kinda did too. Somehow a hole developed in the transmission case and the fluid drained out, ruining the car (too expensive to fix). A local mechanic bought it for $800.We then bought a used 2015 S (6 speed) which we still have today (80k miles). Her sister just bought a used S as well (also manual). It has been a dependable car but BMW-priced maintenance and premium gas hurts for sure. I think the earlier generation (like in the article) were better looking with cleaner lines. The 2015 S rides too stiff for me (Chicago roads) but is a hoot on smooth ones. It does seem to shift weird - its hard to describe but it shifts differently from every other manual I have driven. No matter how hard I try, so won't let go of her Mini.
  • Crown Seems like they cut some cylinders too.A three cylinder...where are they planning on selling that??
  • Slavuta "There’s also the problem of climate change, and the more intense weather that comes along with it"How could one even write something like this? We don't have more intense weather. We have better weather. When Earth started, it was a fiery ball. We don't know what weather was in 1700. And even if we know some of it in Europe, we don't know what was happening in Africa, South America, Oceania, etc. We have people living in places where they did not live before. We have news that report weather related events minutes later or during. This did not happen before. There is no evidence that we have an increase in intensity. I looked into historical records in the area where I live - there is not much movement at all between 1970 and now. And remember - none of the previous weather predictions have materialized.