Electric Cars

BP invests in battery tech for 5-minute electric car recharges

StoreDot claims its batteries can be recharged as quickly as filling a regular car with gas.

StoreDot flash batteries

These lithium-ion batteries could be charged in as little time as it takes you to pump gas.

StoreDot

One of the struggles with electric cars is how long it takes to recharge their batteries, even using the newest fast-charging systems. The Nissan Leaf's Quick Charge feature, for instance, takes 40 minutes to bring the battery back up to 80 percent capacity. But that could change soon, as BP is investing in a company that claims its electric-car batteries can be recharged in no more time than it takes to fill up a regular car with gasoline – as little as five minutes.

BP's $20 million investment in StoreDot is intended to push development of the company's flash batteries. The lithium-ion-based batteries are said to be capable of "ultrafast charging." They're set to be introduced in mobile electronics next year and, hopefully, in electric cars soon after that. In 2017, StoreDot said its batteries would be integrated in new electric cars "in the next three years."

Israel-based StoreDot hasn't revealed much about the technology behind its flash batteries, but says that they use "nano materials and proprietary organic compounds" instead of graphite. That apparently makes the batteries less flammable while also allowing  faster charge times. And the goal is not just to have small battery packs with the technology, as StoreDot says that five-minute charge would be enough to give an electric car 300 miles of driving range.

BP's investment in electric-car charging makes sense as the energy giant seeks to diversify its fuel offerings in the future; the oil giant predicts that the rise of EVs will hurt oil demand by 2040. The company already has 70 electric-car charging points at BP stations around the world. "We are committed to be the fuel provider of choice – no matter what car our customers drive," BP Downstream Chief Executive Tufan Erginbilgic said in a statement.

Porsche is also pushing fast-charging in preparation for the introduction of its Mission E electric car, though its system won't be quite as swift as StoreDot's. Porsche plans to launch a network of as many as 500 800-volt fast-charge stations across the US by the end of 2019. Those charges are powerful to juice up the Mission E with 250 miles of range in just 20 minutes, the company promises. Electrify America, the company established by Volkswagen as part of its Dieselgate settlement, is also planning to roll out fast chargers across the country, including at Target stores.

StoreDot flash battery cutaway

The Israel-based company says its lithium-ion batteries don't use graphite, unlike rivals'.

StoreDot