If you do not follow battery tech news, this is something some researchers are still trying to achieve. When they eventually do, they say these batteries will take some years to reach production.
To give you an idea of what this represents, the Tesla Model 3 battery pack is considered as one of the best available for EVs. In January, Jack Rickard disassembled one and said its 2170 cells had a 247 Wh/kg energy density.
If it could have 500 Wh/kg all of a sudden, you would have a car that could travel double the current distances. If a Model 3 Long Range goes 310 mi, it could suddenly go 620 mi or even a little more than that.
What would this represent to electric pickup trucks? That would have a massive impact on everything that is being done today. That’s why we need more evidence that this is for real before celebrating anything. Unfortunately, Nikola did not provide that so far. Instead, it has pushed even bolder claims.
According to the release, this prototype battery would cost 50 percent less of what a Li-ion battery requires. That makes us wonder what materials this battery uses. Sulfur? Selenium? Why is it so much cheaper?
Nikola Motors does not clarify that, but it is certainly something different, probably without lithium. It would be “environmentally friendly,” “easy to recycle,” and not “toxic.” That is perhaps why the company says it wants to share the tech with other OEMs.
The only case we have seen of an automaker sharing its tech with others for free was Volvo charging nothing for the three-point seatbelt. It could have made a fortune with royalties, but it preferred to save millions of lives.
Nikola Motors’ technology promises to save the environment, but can it really do that? Apparently, Nikola’s generosity is more a way to join forces to make this happen faster – with proper funding – than any environmental concern. The only technical detail the company provides is this one:
Nikola prototype cell is the first battery that removes binder material and current collectors, enabling more energy storage within the cell. It is also expected to pass nail penetration standards, thus reducing potential vehicle fires.
The company also mentions it will be the first “free-standing electrode automotive battery,” but that does not help much in figuring out what it is. Nikola is in talks with “a world-class battery engineering team to help bring the new battery to pre-production.”
Did this team develop the revolutionary cells? Or was it a Nikola development? None of this is apparent at this point, so we are left just with the promises of what it could make. That said, we prefer to be skeptical until Nikola shows us something more concrete.
If the company is willing to share the tech with other automakers, it will surely not mind sharing it with us before Nikola World 2020. If it doesn’t, and the only thing it intends to present a year from now is a prototype battery, it will not hurt to wait to believe any of these bold claims. Wouldn’t it be amazing if they were true?
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