Fisker says that it has given up on solid-state batteries after having announced a “breakthrough” that was supposed to enable “500 miles of range and 1-minute charging” in its electric cars.
After relaunching his electric vehicle startup, Henrik Fisker started making a lot of very ambitious claims about the capabilities of the new company’s future electric cars.
We have highlighted some of those in a report called: “A look at Fisker’s unbelievable claims about its upcoming all-electric car with ‘over 400 miles of range’ & ‘9-minute charging.”
But one of the biggest claims was regarding the batteries that Fisker planned to use.
At first, the company announced that their first car will be powered by a new graphene-based hybrid supercapacitor technology.
That idea didn’t stick for long and Fisker instead announced a solid-state battery “breakthrough” for electric cars with “500 miles range and 1-minute charging.”
As with most battery breakthrough claims, we were skeptical of Fisker’s announcement. Now, a few years later, Henrik Fisker announced that they have actually given up on the supposed breakthrough over a year ago.
The CEO said in an interview with The Verge:
So we spent a lot of time, several years, doing research in solid-state batteries. And it’s kind of a technology where when you feel like you’re 90% there, you’re almost there, until you realize the last 10% is much more difficult than the first 90. But you don’t really know that until you get up to the 90%. So as we got toward the end of this — or let’s put it, as we got close to understanding fully this technology, we realized that it was much more difficult than we had predicted and expected in the beginning as we were very excited about some of the early things we were doing.
But we eventually came to the conclusion, I think it was probably end of 2019, beginning of ‘20, I forget exactly, that solid-state batteries are still very, very far out, they’re not around the corner. I think personally, they’re at least seven years out, if not more, in terms of any sort of high-volume format. Because you need to… once you have a breakthrough in that technology, you need probably three years to set up high-volume manufacturing, and then you need another three years to do durability testing. So even if somebody invented it today, it would be at least probably six years out.
So we have completely dropped solid-state batteries at this point in time because we just don’t see it materializing. Would we do something in the future? If we do, it would be something completely new, and we obviously have a battery team that’s looking at the current technology that’s here. But the solid-state battery that we worked on, that just doesn’t have a future at this point in time in the near future. And I don’t see us continuing with that particular development at all.”
In short, Fisker believes that the technology is nowhere near ready for commercialization.
That’s despite indicating the exact opposite in the “breakthrough” announcement.
Fabio Albano, who was VP of battery systems at Fisker at the time, commented:
This breakthrough marks the beginning of a new era in solid-state materials and manufacturing technologies. We are addressing all of the hurdles that solid-state batteries have encountered on the path to commercialization, such as performance in cold temperatures; the use of low cost and scalable manufacturing methods; and the ability to form bulk solid-state electrodes with significant thickness and high active material loadings. We are excited to build on this foundation and move the needle in energy storage.
Interestingly, the story is not as simple as Fisker being too quick to claim a breakthrough.
Not long after their breakthrough announcement, Fisker was sued by QuantumScape, a Volkswagen-backed solid-state battery startup, over alleged theft of trade secrets.
Fisker later settled the lawsuit for $750,000.
Later in 2019, Albano filed a breach of contract lawsuit against Fisker claiming that he was fired by the company.
Fisker went public through a reverse-merger last year and saw its valuation surge to almost $8 billion following announcements that they are trying to work with Magna and Foxconn to bring their electric vehicle design to production.
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