Sekisui Chemical claims cheap, long-range lithium battery tech

Much cheaper, longer-range electric cars are on the way if Japan's Sekisui Chemical claims are realized in 2015.

A Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric car. The Sekisui Chemical battery tech could boost the range for a car like this far beyond the rated 63 mile range.
A Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric car. The Sekisui Chemical battery tech could boost the range for a car like this far beyond the rated 63-mile range. Mitsubishi Motors

Sekisui Chemical says it is on track to manufacture material that will allow production of thin, cheap, long-range batteries for electric cars by 2015.

The company announced Tuesday that the new silicon-based material for use in lithium ion batteries could result in batteries that deliver a driving range of about 370 miles -- roughly equivalent to how far a typical car can go on a full tank of gas but at a much lower cost.

As a point of comparison, Tesla's Model S with the largest capacity battery delivers about 300 miles driving at a speed of 55 mph.

Maybe more importantly, the new material can bring battery production costs down to just above 30,000 yen ($290) per kilowatt-hour, a decrease of more than 60 percent from around 100,000 yen ($976) today, according to a report in Nikkei.

This could result in cutting electric car prices to the level of gasoline-powered cars, according to Nikkei, citing an official at a major Japanese automaker.

The news drove Sekisui Chemical's stock price in Japan to to its highest level since 1996, according to a Bloomberg report.

Sekisui's announcement on its Japanese-language Web page cites the "value" characteristics of the new battery tech, including the promise of a lithium ion battery that is about one-third the weight of a conventional electric car battery, allowing for a highly-compact car battery.

The Japanese company plans to begin sample shipments to battery manufacturers by summer 2014 at the earliest, with mass production slated for 2015.

Sekisui Chemical's lithium ion battery material allows smaller, thinner batteries.
Sekisui Chemical's lithium ion battery material allows smaller, thinner batteries. Sekisui Chemical
About the author

Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.

 

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