Caterpillar Invests in Fisker to Accelerate Development of Solid-State Batteries

Fisker claims that solid-state batteries could deliver 500 miles of range and recharge in just one minute.

byStephen Edelstein| UPDATED Jun 11, 2019 5:02 AM
Caterpillar Invests in Fisker to Accelerate Development of Solid-State Batteries

Fisker Inc., the second automaker founded by famed car designer Henrik Fisker, just scored a new investor. Caterpillar Venture Capital Inc., a subsidiary of heavy-machinery company Caterpillar, will invest an undisclosed amount of money and resources in the automaker. This will drive the development of new battery technology Fisker claims will lead to a breakthrough in electric car performance.

Fisker is betting that solid-state batteries will surpass the lithium-ion batteries used in all current electric cars. Solid-state batteries use a solid electrolyte rather than the liquid used in conventional batteries, hence the name. This is supposed to yield greater energy density, meaning more electricity can be stored in a given volume. More storage capacity means more range, addressing one of the biggest drawbacks to current electric cars.

If Fisker's claims for the solid-state batteries prove true, the technology could be a game-changer. Fisker has said they will eventually allow electric cars to travel 500 miles on a charge, and recharge in just one minute.

Such predictions have many companies jumping on the solid-state battery bandwagon. Dyson, the British company known for cordless vacuum cleaners is planning to build electric cars also owns Sakti3, one of the first companies dedicated to solid-state batteries. BMW and Volkswagen are partnering with solid-state battery firms Solid Power and QuantumScape, respectively. Toyota has said its first mass-market electric car will use the technology. So far though, no company has adapted solid-state batteries for use in a volume production car.

However, Fisker's first planned production car, the EMotion (yes, really), will not use solid-state batteries, according to Green Car Reports. In order to get it into production quicker (Fisker previously quoted a late-2018 timeframe) the company will use conventional lithium-ion batteries supplied by LG Chem--which also supplies batteries for the Chevrolet Bolt EV, among others.

Even with conventional batteries, Fisker is making ambitious claims for the EMotion. The electric luxury sedan will have a range of 400 miles, with a nine-minute recharge to reach a range of 125 miles, according to Fisker. The car will have all-wheel drive, a top speed of 161 miles per hour, and a base price of $130,000. A it's typical of Henrik Fisker, the design is flamboyant, featuring "butterfly" doors that swing up in supercar-like fashion.

Launching a new car company, especially one based around a new technology isn't easy, something Henrik Fisker already knows. His previous venture, Fisker automotive, sold a handful of its Karma plug-in hybrid sedans before declaring bankruptcy (Fisker had left his namesake company by then). The remains of Fisker Automotive were eventually bought by Chinese auto-parts giant Wanxiang and reconstituted as Karma Automotive. The company is now selling an updated version of its original car as the Karma Revero.