TOKYO — The engineering guru leading Nissan's quest for solid-state batteries wants to disabuse people of the notion that solid state is inherently safer than today's lithium ion packs.
True, next-generation solid-state batteries don't have a flammable liquid electrolyte. But they do cram in a lot more energy, and that could make for some unpleasant fireworks if something goes haywire.
"Energy density is double, so you have a potential bomb that's more dangerous," said Kazuhiro Doi, corporate vice president in charge of advanced battery research at the Japanese automaker.
"If a big accident occurs, it could become much more catastrophic than with today's batteries."
But Doi insists Nissan Motor Co. can now lick that safety problem and other key issues that make solid-state batteries difficult to deliver.
His team has been racing to solve conundrums as Nissan tries to deliver on its pledge to bring the lightweight, compact, energy-dense batteries to market in just six years.
The automaker believes it can deliver a battery that holds twice the energy of a lithium ion battery, charges in one-third the time and costs $75 per kilowatt-hour. Nissan also thinks it can whittle that cost to $65 before too long, achieving price parity with gasoline-powered cars.
The breakthrough, Nissan reckons, will enable it to roll out EVs in a swath of new segments, such as pickups, big SUVs and maybe even sports cars, where weight and size are issues.
"I think all-solid-state batteries can be a game-changer," Doi said.