Solid-State Batteries And Motorcycles: Everything We Know So Far - SUV VEHICLE

Solid-State Batteries And Motorcycles: Everything We Know So Far

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Summary

  • Solid-state batteries offer higher energy density and durability compared to current technology, potentially revolutionizing electric motorcycles.
  • Companies like BMW, Ford, and Gogoro are investing in solid-state battery technology, indicating promising advancements in the near future.
  • The widespread adoption of solid-state batteries in vehicles may see motorcycles as early adopters, leading to faster, more efficient electric bikes.



There’s no denying EVs are all the rage these days. But electric motorcycles seem to be a little slower than their four-wheeled counterparts to adopt the tech. Wile there are many reasons for that, a significant weight penalty that batteries tend to have is one of the big issues. Same goes for the range; after all, you need a big battery for a big range. Also, charge times remain a downer, even though the charging infrastructure is catching up wherever required.

However, there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel with solid-state battery tech. What is solid-state battery technology? Does it matter much to motorcycles? Should we be waiting eagerly for it, or should we continue to keep our hopes pinned on the fossilized juices of trees and dinosaurs? These are all valid questions and today, we’re trying to answer as many of them. So here’s everything we know about solid-state batteries, and how it relates to motorcycle tech today.


To ensure accuracy, the information compiled in this article was sourced from the manufacturers, as well as other authoritative sources such as Electrek and Visordown. We believe we have made a ‘solid’ effort on this one.

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The Powerhouse Of The Cell

A prototype of Toyota's All-Solid-State Battery shown at a technical workshop
Toyota

We know what batteries are, but a quick refresher: they are essentially fuel tanks for electric vehicles. Your old batteries in cars and bikes used to be lead-acid batteries, and as the name suggests, they were as heavy as lead for obvious reasons. We then progressed to different types of batteries; Nickel Metal Hydride batteries were popular for a while, and now the battery tech of today is Lithium-ion batteries (Li-ion).


These offer greater energy density (meaning low weight), and their charge times are significantly better than before. Of course, the limiting factor for charge times remains heat generation, which is a smaller problem when it comes to phones, which is why fast charging is easier on them than it is for a motorcycle. Not to mention, heat dissipation while charging outdoors on a sunny Texan summer afternoon will be a challenge for any technology.

The Limitations Of A Battery Designed For A Vehicle

Gogoro solid state battery and scooter
www.gogoro.com


Lithium is popular for a reason – it is the third-lightest element, after Hydrogen and Helium. So making anything that uses it will by default be light. It also offers a fair bit of energy density, so when it comes to vehicles it meets a lot of the requirements. We want a light, energy-dense battery because we don’t want to be hauling around weight; that is self-defeating. This is the reason old Li-ion batteries from vehicles get repurposed for storage in homes or solar/wind farms where the weight isn’t as important.

With motorcycles, weight becomes a larger concern than with cars. A modern motorcycle is faster than many sports cars, primarily because its weight is so low. A heavy battery will blunt performance to the point of making the exercise pointless.

As with any tech that is seeing exponentially increasing demand, developments are happening all the time. One such development is sodium-ion batteries. Sodium is a common element – common salt is half sodium, remember – and since, for the purposes of a battery, it shows similar properties to Lithium, which automatically brings costs down. There are other benefits as well that help its cause for EVs; they can charge really quickly and have the potential to store far more energy. In simple terms, it means shorter charge times and going longer and farther before requiring another charge.


Solid Equals More Density

Lithium-Ion vs. Solid-State Battery Comparison
Nissan

Where solid-state batteries seem to have a massive advantage is in their energy density. It’s sort of obvious when you think about it, that a solid has many more atoms packed into the same area, meaning more ions in context. Plus, they seem to hold their capacity for many more cycles than the current technology. Another area where they seem to be better is stability. With liquid and gel innards, batteries can be a little temperamental and can (and have) spontaneously combusted. While we know internal combustion motorcycles mean sitting on top of controlled explosions many times a minute, that tech has had well over a century to get reliable. Unlike the EV battery tech of today that gives no warning before going up in flames.


Damon Hypersport Premier Electric Motor
Damon Motorcycles

All isn’t hunky dory, though. Current battery technology uses a liquid (like lead acid batteries) or a gel (Li-ion batteries) to help the ions cross from one terminal to the other, but the important thing is that they are free to move across a ‘boundary’ of sorts between the positive and negative sides of the cell itself. This boundary is more like the border between two countries that aren’t comfortable (or is it too comfortable?) with each other; it isn’t a defined line, but an area between the two occupied by both positive and negative ions. This is one of the hurdles a solid-state battery will have to overcome since solids have a defined boundary, and it might take quite a bit of energy for the ions to cross this division.


Additionally, solid-state technology has a long way to go before it catches up to current battery tech. And even that is a moving target, as we’ve noted above. Lithium is a rare metal, and Cobalt (another element used in Li-ion batteries) has some question marks over the conditions under which it is mined. There’s also the question of recycling – lead acid batteries have been around long enough that there is organized recycling almost everywhere on the planet. But many places across the globe don’t have a recycling plan for Lithium-ion batteries yet–a problem faced by solid-state batteries as well.

Solid State Of Affairs

Gogoro solid state battery
www.gogoro.com


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Where do we stand currently in the race to develop this solid-state battery technology for motorcycles, you ask? BMW has invested in a Colorado-based company called Solid Power, with the aim of putting the technology in its cars and motorcycles. Another automotive giant, Ford, has also invested in it, so the results cannot be too far off. Meanwhile, Taiwanese company Gogoro, known for its electric scooters with battery swapping technology, displayed a solid-state battery for scooters in 2022. Not much else has been heard from them since, though, despite them launching new models like the Pulse, their latest flagship recently.

Another company worth tracking is Stromer, a manufacturer of e-bikes. Yes, those bicycles with motors. They claim to have developed the first solid-state battery for an e-bike, and the implication is clear: it can be scaled up for a motorcycle. However, since the announcement of the solid-state battery tech last June, nothing more has been heard from them about it, either. Honda has also put out a statement regarding its ongoing research into solid-state battery technology, but it doesn’t go so far as to set a target for launch.


Batt To The Future

Cake Kalk electric motorcycle
Cake

A lot of projections state that 2025 is the earliest that we’ll see solid-state batteries in vehicles. It is no doubt going to be easier to put them into cars, but unlike the US market, most of the world runs on two-wheelers as a matter of necessity. So it is very likely that we will see this technology first in small two-wheelers in markets such as China and Japan, with a few halo models that will evangelize the technology in markets like ours.


Look for companies like Damon Motorcycles and Lightning Motorcycles to jump on this as soon as possible since it fits with their brand image of cutting-edge tech perfectly well. The true indicator of whether this technology will be successful will be to look in a place completely different from vehicles, however. Companies should first fit solid-state batteries into your phone, tablet, and laptop, then you can be sure that the day they are fitted to a motorcycle won’t be far.

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