Electric vehicles (EVs) have come a long way over the years. Now almost every electric vehicle can travel at least 250 miles on a single charge, and many can travel more than 300 miles.
Charging times with DC fast chargers have also improved dramatically. The Hyundai Ionic charges from 10% to 80% in just 18 minutes. Sure, that’s a bit slower than the roughly 5 minutes it takes to fill up the gas tank of an internal combustion engine vehicle (ICEV). But it’s not an excruciatingly slow recharge time.
That said, keep in mind that a 240 mile trip will take about 4 hours. After 4 hours of driving, I don’t think I’d get much of a heartache if I took an 18-minute break to go to the bathroom, grab a snack, and stretch my legs.
Long car rides are usually the exception.
We also have to remember that for most people, long car trips are the exception. In the US, people drive an average of 40 miles a day. Most people will just recharge their EVs at home every night. And may even skip one or two nights of charging at home.
Solid state batteries are the gold standard for long trips.
Many people who purchase EVs as first adopters don’t worry too much about the 18-minute stop to recharge. Oh, and the car’s 300-plus mile range is quite comfortable. But as EV sales grow, we’re approaching consumers who will want more range, or at least much faster charging times. This, in my opinion, is one of the main reasons for some of the slowdown in EV sales at the moment.
The answer is solid state batteries. I won’t go into the technical details of the differences between current lithium and solid state batteries. The main point of this article is the practical effect of using such batteries in EVs for the consumer. I want to show how this will make a difference and how soon we should hope to see them.
Longer range of solid state batteries.
One of the two main features of solid state batteries is increased range. Toyota has stated that once it releases its electric cars with solid state batteries, it expects to have vehicles with a range of about 750 miles on a single charge. If traveling at 60 miles per hour, that would amount to 12.5 hours of non-stop driving. Perhaps in my 20s I could have traveled that much in one leg of the trip. But now there is no way I could drive half that amount of time without having to get out of the car briefly.
This range will be even more important for pickup trucks towing trailers. If a pickup truck is towing a trailer, it loses 30 to 50% of its range on any type of fuel. This is true for both ICEVs and EV pickups. An ICEV pickup can be refueled in 5 minutes, while an EV pickup typically takes about 40 minutes to recharge. If you have an EV pickup with a 400-mile range, that means you’ll drive just over 200 miles before you need to recharge. If your EV pickup can go 750 miles without a trailer, you can go almost 400 miles when towing a trailer. That would amount to 6 hours between stops for charging.
Massive increase in charging speed.
Another huge advantage of solid state batteries is charging speed. Toyota claims that its solid-state batteries will be able to be charged to 100% in 10 minutes or less on a fast DC charger.
Now EV road trips will be as painless as ICEVs. Think back to our example of EV pickups pulling camper trailers. You can drive 360 miles (about a 6 hour stretch) and charge that pickup in 10 minutes. I bet it would take longer to take the family to the bathroom and buy snacks than it would to recharge.
Another major benefit of fast charging is that people who own EVs live in places where there is no way to recharge at home. An example would be someone who only has on-street parking or lives in an apartment complex that has not yet installed Level 2 chargers for residents.
When will we see these batteries?
Toyota says it should begin mass production of solid-state batteries by 2027 or 2028. Hyundai says its entire fleet of vehicles will use solid-state batteries by 2030. Tesla has also said it will use solid-state batteries, but has not yet given any timeline. I expect other automakers to follow suit around the same timeframe.
I think even now electric cars are a great purchase for many people. Keep in mind that the average person drives 40 miles a day and recharges at home most of the time. I can see a fair number of two-car families having EVs and ICEVs until solid state battery cars hit the market. But if companies like Hyundai and Toyota reach their goals of solid state battery EVs by 2030, the day of the ICEV is pretty much at an end.