(Bloomberg) -- StoreDot Ltd. and BP Plc took a stride toward their goal of speeding up battery charging when a power-depleted scooter wheeled away after just five minutes with a topped-up battery and enough juice to go 70 kilometers, compared to the normal charging time of about four hours.
“This is showing the world that we can break the barrier of fast charging, and what was considered impossible is actually possible,” said StoreDot Chief Executive Officer Doron Myersdorf, whose company will begin selling five-minute chargers for mobile phones in the second half of 2020.
The Herzliya, Israel-based company plans to put its scooter batteries on the market in 2021, when it has scheduled its next proof of concept -- revving up a Mercedes for a 300-mile drive in five minutes flat, instead of the several hours it takes to charge the car now. The automobile battery will need 10 times as many power cells as the scooter battery, and an even more efficient way of cooling while in use, Myersdorf said.
Ultra-fast charging can help solve “range anxiety,” one of the hurdles to electric-vehicle adaption -- the car equivalent of worrying that your mobile phone might go dead.
StoreDot isn’t the only one trying to solve the problem. Porsche Automobil Holding SE says its electric Taycan sedan, slated for release this year, can add more than 60 miles of charge in four minutes. Tesla Inc. can bring batteries to 80% charge in a half-hour. And the Israeli startup Chakratec Ltd., along with Wien Energie GmbH, has developed an EV charging station -- deployed this month at Vienna International Airport -- that it says charges some car batteries in 10 minutes.
Electric vehicles will comprise more than half of all new car sales in 2040, as prices come down and battery life and driving range improve, according to BloombergNEF. About $50 billion of investment in charging equipment is needed through 2030 to meet the power demand, according to McKinsey & Co.
BP has invested $20 million in StoreDot and sees the ultra-fast charger, which can fill up electric batteries as quickly as you can put gas in a tank, as a way to keep customers coming to their filling stations, as well as reduce the planet’s carbon footprint, said David Gilmour, vice president of business development at BP Ventures Llc.
Ultra-fast charging still faces significant hurdles, including the need for a better raw-material supply chain; a rethink of filling-station design; locations for battery manufacturing; and improved disposal for end-of-life batteries. Gilmour says these challenges require deep pockets and government support.
Catch a Fire
StoreDot’s battery, which uses germanium and tin, contains less lithium than batteries in the Tesla and NIO Inc. cars that caught fire recently in greater China, and is not only faster but also less combustible, Myersdorf said.
“The main concern I would have around technology like this is that it charges so quickly, what does it do to the life of my battery,” BNEF analyst James Frithsaid. “One of the common concerns with fast chargers is that they degrade a battery quicker.”
StoreDot says it has added compounds to prevent degradation, but at the moment this remains to be proven, Frith said.
Myersdorf said the batteries don’t degrade, but he understands the concern.“Professors here still consider what we did impossible because of what they used to think about batteries,” he said.
It’s still too early to know how much StoreDot’s car batteries will cost, or what they’ll do for the company’s revenue, Myersdorf said.
“Try to put a price tag on something that didn’t exist before," he said. “The sky is the limit in terms of value that impacts each person on the planet, and the planet itself.”
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