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Samsung’s latest battery: faster, farther, lighter

Source: Samsung SDI

Samsung SDI outlines EV battery for the next decade, although comes up short on details

The North American International Auto Show held in Detroit last week saw some encouraging activity on the EV front, but many found the stage overshadowed by ICEs – perhaps owing the more tech-friendly CES in Nevada the week before.

However, one manufacturer integral to the supply chain did have something to show. Sort of. Battery-maker Samsung SDI introduced a “high-energy density battery cell of the next generation for a driving range of up to 600km that can fast charge EVs in 20 minutes.”

The headline figure here is an 80% recharge in 20 minutes. That’s a battery capable of carrying the average EV about 370 miles (EPA-rated), recharging in a coffee-break and then carrying on for another 300 miles – a significant feat. It also carries the technology well beyond that of pole-positioned Tesla, whose Superchargers will give you an extra 170 miles in about 30 minutes.

The catch is that such a battery does not yet exist. Samsung SDI anticipates mass production of the unit by 2021. Moreover, details on exactly how such an improvement is to be made are scarce.

Samsung attributes the gains to “technological know-how in materials” as well as “processes that vastly decreased the resistance inside a battery cell,” although gives little away beyond that, and with no further details on energy density or capacity.

It’s possible that another innovation – an “integrated battery module” – which enables a 10% decrease in component units and weight (compared with current units), and fewer overall components, could be part of the solution. Less weight means the ability to add more batteries, (in theory). Beyond that, we’e not sure.

It continued that: “A conventional EV battery module which consists of 12 cells has a capacity of 2~3kWh. By contrast, an “integrated battery module” has more than 24 cells with a higher capacity of 6~8kWh, which makes it an adequate module in the full-fledged high-capacity EV era.”

This is also part of a wider shift in the industry from cells to modules, it said.

But it is easy to tout improvements for batteries released in five years. Moreover, the 370-mile range promised by Samsung could easily be achieved through incremental improvements – Tesla already promises 315 miles from the P100D available now. More likely, the battery pack may be aimed more at automakers themselves, many of which have promised EVs with a range of 300 miles or more by 2020. In which case, Samsung is meeting expectations rather than setting them.

While it’s encouraging to see the company’s commitment to the technology, 2021 is a long way off, and 20-minute charges are needed sooner rather than later if consumers are to be convinced.


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