Honda Jumps on the Solid-State Battery Bandwagon

Solid-state batteries are getting more attention from automakers.

Honda

Honda is investigating solid-state batteries for electric cars, joining a growing number of automakers researching this new battery technology. The Japanese automaker is a strong proponent of hydrogen fuel cells but, like rival Toyota, it may be hedging its bets with batteries.

"We've been researching all solid-state batteries," Honda spokesperson Teruhiko Tatebe told Reuters. While Kyodo News reported that Honda was teaming up with Nissan on battery development, Tatebe said Honda is not working with any other automaker at this time.

Solid-state batteries differ from the lithium-ion batteries used in most electric cars today by using a solid electrolyte (hence the name) instead of a liquid one. This supposedly allows greater energy density, meaning a battery can store more energy in a given volume. Unlike the liquid electrolyte in lithium-ion batteries, the solid-state electrolyte also isn't flammable.

While no company has managed to commercialize solid-state batteries so far, they have received a lot of attention. Just this week, BMW and Colorado-based Solid Power announced a partnership to research solid-state batteries. Toyota has said it plans to use solid-state batteries in an upcoming production electric car, and Fisker plans to do the same. British vacuum-cleaner maker Dyson bought solid-state battery startup Sakti3 in 2015 and plans to spend $2.7 billion to build electric cars by 2020.

Honda will need good batteries. It expects electrified vehicles to make up two-thirds of its global sales by 2030. In the nearer term, a new hybrid reviving the Insight name will go on sale next year, and a production version of the retro-chic Urban EV concept will hit European showrooms in 2019. Stricter emissions standards are likely behind Honda's push for more hybrids and electric cars.