Earlier this month, Nissan announced the establishment of a prototype production facility for all-solid-state batteries — with plans to build a pilot line in Japan as early as 2024 and launch an electric vehicle in 2028.

Nissan says the batteries could be “a game-changer for the democratization of electric vehicles,” potentially doubling the weight-to-weight energy density while offering a third of the fast-charging time — the company is targeting a cost per kilowatt-hour Just $75. They are a key part of the company’s Nissan Ambition 2030 plan, which calls for the launch of 15 all-electric vehicles for the Nissan and Infiniti brands by the end of the decade, aiming for electric vehicles to account for 40 percent of its U.S. sales.

The project echoes in some ways Nissan’s efforts for the Leaf, which co-developed automotive-grade lithium-ion batteries for the groundbreaking EV more than a decade ago when suppliers didn’t provide what it needed — and now It’s hoping to do something similar with solid-state battery technology.

In a question-and-answer session with the media at the time of the announcement, Nissan Vice President Kazuhiro Doi, who heads the Nissan Research Center, noted that solid-state batteries could play an important role in democratizing electric vehicles and making large electric trucks feasible — a very different thing from Toyota. Plans to roll out the technology in hybrids by 2025 vary.

Ultium EV Platform – GMC Hummer EV

The truck dilemma is a familiar one we’ve discussed with other vehicle and automakers — Land Rover considers fuel cells due to “diminishing returns” for battery packs in large SUVs, while Hyundai hints it might be smarter to use hydrogen — The battery technology is better than a two-layer battery. The bigger and heavier the truck gets, the heavier the battery pack ends up being — and then the truck’s structure needs to be stronger to support the added weight of the battery while maintaining the intended payload of this model. For example, the GMC Hummer EV, which weighs more than 9,000 pounds, is a good example of how it can pack enough battery—roughly one-third of its curb weight at over 200 kWh—for more than 300 miles of range mileage.

still training wheels

Prototype factories are hand-manufacturing each battery prototype, which already demonstrates a deep commitment. Along with them, Nissan is also designing a new generation of electric motors and inverters to complement solid-state batteries, and the automaker plans to use its prototype batteries for crash testing, research on battery protection and durability testing. This includes internal nail penetration tests and X-ray imaging.

Currently, these cells are very small—20 mAh single-layer cells that are only 2 cm wide. This year, Nissan will also conduct a lab-scale feasibility study and expand the battery to a multi-layer design in the 3-5 Ah range with a width of 10cm. Actual production vehicle units will be larger.

“I believe we are one of the few OEMs with in-house battery development and manufacturing experience and know-how from the past 10 years of that experience and market history,” Doi said. “To further popularize electric vehicles, the key innovation is the battery.”

Nissan solid-state battery prototype production

Nissan solid-state battery prototype production

If ASSB is not conceived correctly, it could be worse from a safety and durability standpoint. In more than 11 years on the market, the Nissan Leaf has had “zero market events” in terms of fire or thermal runaway, Doi noted, emphasizing that safety is also a top priority for the new battery.

Part of the U.S. partnership with NASA

Nissan batteries benefited from a collaboration with NASA and the University of California, San Diego, in which an intermediate layer was developed using AI technology and a database of 131,000 materials to prevent the growth of lithium dendrites that could otherwise penetrate, short-circuiting cells. Doi described the strategy as “exceeding expectations” and is now undergoing final validation with actual materials.

Solid-state batteries use highly ionically conductive organic electrolytes because of their interfacial stability with the anode and high power potential, a network-like bonding and precise mixing process between the active material and the solid electrolyte, which reduces the battery resistance. The higher the output, the higher the charging time The shorter, Doi explained, and given the lower temperature rise when these batteries are charged at high rates, they can quickly charge to nearly 100 percent in 15 minutes.

Nissan Chill-Out Concept - December 2021

Nissan Chill-Out Concept – December 2021

This may take some warming as the number is at 60 degrees Celsius. The charging time at 25 degrees Celsius is more likely because the ambient temperature allows a quick charge to 90% in 30 minutes. However, cooling requirements are also reduced.

Potential to reduce carbon footprint, also

Additionally, solid-state batteries are much more mass-efficient than lithium-ion batteries, so based on material reduction, they have the potential to reduce the impact of carbon dioxide. Doi pointed out that current liquid lithium-ion batteries have a dry process, and if a dry process could be applied to this, it would help reduce carbon dioxide.

Overall, the goal is simply to make a great electric car, with Nissan executives stressing that charging is easier, lighter, and affordable for mass-market cars, not just niche ones. After an update a few years after starting pilot production, the company can prove it made the right decision to develop solid-state batteries in-house.