Electric cars are slated to dominate the car market eventually. One thing that’s holding them back right now are issues related to batteries. Of course, the more people working on a problem the better. The U.S. government knows that and is giving GM $2 million to help improve this part of electric car battery technology.
Owning an electric car has a lot of perks, but it also has a lot of downsides too. The majority of them have to do with the car’s battery packs, which have to be massive in order to give the electric car a good driving range.
These massive batteries can be prone to catching on fire, either from being damaged or from overheating. These batteries also weigh a lot, so reducing that weight would improve the car’s overall performance.
Furthermore, charging those batteries isn’t a real hassle so much as it’s an inconvenience. If you charge your electric car at home, it can take hours to top it off. If you charge it at a supercharging station, then it’ll take less time to charge it up, but it’ll still be much slower than refueling a gas-powered car.
That’s where GM and those $2 million come in.
An electric car’s battery rarely catches on fire, but if you’d recall when Samsung phones were literally exploding, then that’s an example of what happens when lithium-ion batteries overheat. Solid-state batteries are kept cooler than lithium-ion batteries are, so they won’t overheat as easily.
Furthermore, solid-state batteries can carry more juice than lithium-ion batteries can. This means you’d need significantly fewer solid-state batteries on an electric car than you’d need lithium-ion batteries. Not only that, but solid-state batteries can also be charged faster and will last longer than lithium-ion batteries.
Battery life is especially important for electric cars, as replacing them can cost a lot of money and disposing of the old batteries can be harmful to the environment if it’s not done correctly. Thus, solid-state batteries seem to be better than lithium-ion batteries in pretty much every area.
These advanced batteries aren’t science fiction either, they’re already a reality. But like all good things, it has one big downside. Its only problem is that it costs companies a lot of money to make solid-state batteries, especially compared to lithium-ion ones.
This grant money is going to fix that production issue. The government and GM hope that they’re on the verge of a technological breakthrough and that the $2 million will help make solid-state batteries a widely available product for everyone.
GM isn’t the only company racing towards making these solid-state batteries available for the masses. According to Wired, Toyota is another automaker that’s trying to get there first.
Like Toyota and almost every automaker on the world though, GM is eagerly participating in the global race to go green. GM is investing in green cars across many of its brands, and its fully electric Chevy Bolt is one of the most popular electric cars in America.
GM’s also planning on building a lot of different types of electric vehicles, including an electric pickup truck that it hopes will compete with other electric truck companies.
All of these electric vehicles will need batteries. By investing in the future of battery technology, GM hopes to get a leg up on other automakers. If this initiative succeeds, then those solid-state batteries will offer GM’s electric cars a slew of features that other companies can’t compete with.
If successful, this could not only drive GM’s electric car sales up, but it could also make GM invest more heavily in the electric car market. However, with all things technology related, there’s no guarantee that solid-state batteries will be coming to a car near you soon. Of course, GM certainly hopes they will.