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Volkswagen’s Winterkorn: “great potential” in solid-state batteries, with possible 1,000 Wh/l, or 700 km range

In his remarks made at Stanford University during the award of the third Science Award for Electrochemistry to Dr. Vanessa Wood (earlier post), Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn, Chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen noted again the challenges of energy density, cost, reliability and lifespan for batteries enabling longer range electric mobility.

In that context, he said that he sees “great potential” in solid-state batteries, which possibly could boost EV range to as much as 700 km (435 miles), representing a volumetric energy density of about 1,000 Wh/l. Current Li-ion batteries, with about 260 Wh/l are enabling a range of some 190 km (118 miles), he said. He then added that, with a higher nickel content, more will be feasible, although falling well short of the potential of solid-state systems. However, even “Increasing the specific energy of lithium-ion cells to as much as 380 Wh/l will reduce driving range drawbacks.”

Lowering the price of battery cells to 100 euros [US$124] per kilowatt hour would significantly increase the market potential of electric vehicles. And if we also improve reliability and battery lifespan, customer acceptance will grow fast. Ladies and gentlemen, we are reaching out to the world of science to make all this happen. Of course, these are complex challenges and progress is not attained overnight. It takes knowledge, it takes precision and it takes lots of persistence.

—Martin Winterkorn

Volkswagen Group engineers are currently working on electrifying up to 40 different models, ranging from all battery-electric drives to plug-in hybrids and even fuel cell systems, he said. (The company has also announced the biggest initiative for e-mobility in China’s automotive history.) For the medium term, the Group strongly believes that the plug-in hybrids will be the leading alternative.

Electrochemistry is a field of the greatest importance—internationally and across industries. A field where we can and must achieve progress. High-performance energy storage is key to big challenges of our times—namely climate protection and a sustainable mobility.

To really succeed with electric vehicles we need batteries with a higher range, less weight and lower cost. This is crucial for a broad acceptance among customers world-wide. It is crucial for economies of scale in purchasing and production. And—as a consequence—it will be crucial to slashing CO2-emissions and meeting tough regulations globally.

So, for Europe’s largest carmaker, battery technology is ranking high on our agenda. By the way, that starts at the top: So in my office the “Basics of Electrochemistry” is a book with a permanent place on the desk. However, it needs more than books.

—Martin Winterkorn

All-solid-state batteries. In a paper presented at the Society of Engineering Science 51st Annual Technical Meeting held at Purdue University last month, Giovanna Bucci, Craig Carter and Yet-Ming Chiang, all of MIT, noted that all-solid-state rechargeable lithium-ion batteries have attracted much interest because they have features particularly favorable for large-scale application—i.e., for automotive applications.

Replacing the organic liquid electrolyte with a nonflammable and more reliable inorganic solid electrolyte (SE) simplifies the battery design while improving safety and durability of the system. This also allows the use of large-capacity electrode materials, for instance, sulfur positive electrode paired with a lithium metal negative electrode, which are difficult to employ in conventional liquid electrolyte batteries.

The all-solid-state battery also offers improved packaging efficiency, as the cell design can allow in-series stacking and bi-polar structures. High energy densities can be achieved by reducing the dead space between single cells.

A key development to the success of all-solid-state batteries is a SE with high Li+ ion conductivity at room temperature. In recent years, several SEs having the same level of conductivity as organic liquid electrolytes have been discovered and tested with many active materials. The durability of a cohering solid–solid interface between electrode and electrolyte is likely to be important practical consideration.

—Bucci et al.

Toyota is pursuing the development of all-solid-state batteries, and has already developed prototype cells with an energy density of 400 Wh/L. These, the Toyota researchers noted (again, assuming development challenges are overcome), could be commercialized by FY 2020 and see subsequent substantial improvement by FY 2025. (Earlier post.)

All-solid-state Li-ion batteries have suffered from limited power densities until recently. Researchers are working in three main areas:

  • Developing better lithium-ion conducting solid electrolytes. These solid electrolytes are oxide-based, sulfide-based, nitride-based, etc. Researchers at Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research in Germany recently reported the development of two new ultrafast solid Li electrolytes which are based exclusively on abundant elements. Both compounds feature extremely high Li-ion diffusivities. (Earlier post.)

  • Designing improved electrode/electrolyte interfaces to reduce interfacial resistance.

  • Improving Li-ion conductivity in active materials.



Account Deleted

The Panasonic cells that Tesla uses are already at 660 Wh/L and we may see a new battery pack option next year for model S and X with cells at 800 Wh/L. See http://www.greencarcongress.com/2009/12/panasonic-20091225.html

Winterkorn is right about using Wh/L and not Wh/kg. It is more relevant for the auto industry to focus on battery size rather than battery weight as a smaller battery means more space for passengers. People do not care about the weight of their car as it does not affect their use of that cars as much as battery size does.


Affordable EVs with 700 Km to 1000 KM range would quickly replace most ICEVs and compete with near future Extended range FCEVs in most places.

Many users could do with one visit at a commercial charger every 2 weeks or charge home (if possible) once or twice a week.

City e-buses would need only one slow over night charge per day. So would most e-taxis.


I think both are important. The weight does prevent some high end performance that could make the cars better handling and that may stop some sports cars from exploring this path. People pay more for sports cars and that might be a viable early adapter market while EVs are still growing.

But I certainly can't argue with you about the importance of the battery size. Of course, if they can solve the COST issue, we'd all be driving EVs soon :)


Im doubting that they will improve batteries because if you have a discovery, then it take less than a year to build a working prototype and demonstrate it. Years of researchs like this prove that they are going nowhere because actually there is no one efficient and powerful battery. They only brainwash us and politicians to keep their jobs, they need their jobs so with no results then they have to promise 'discoveries in the near future' to keep been paid. They also do the same with the ice engine, they promise improvements and more efficiency but the result is no more than 1 % with lot of added cost and less reliability. Till they invented electronic fuel injection and ignition timing there have been no more notable improvements except that they tune the engine and transmission more and more for fuel economy at the expense of power. It's not rocket science nor a discovery.

Till I read this website, I never found a real discovery from scientists or engineers. When my gasoline car will be worn-out, than probably I will just buy a newer one that is the same, no hydrogen, no batteries, no hybrid, no self driving car, no start-stop, no aluminium, no composite, no diesel, no turbines, no low rolling resistance tires, no aerodynamic camera side mirror, no electronic stability and traction controls, no nothing at all. In 2 to 3 years from now I will buy a used 2005 dodge neon for a replacement car when my actual neon will need to be replace.

Roger Pham

Hydrogen at 70 MPa is already there, at 1,600 Wh/liter, or considering packaging round cylinder into square space, can do about 1,000 Wh/liter.
1,500 Wh per kg of total tank + H2 weight.

H2 tank for energy storage cost is around $10-15 per kWh.

Too bad that VW has already given up on H2 development, while others are pressing forward, soon with market-ready models.


@Roger said:
'VW has already given up on H2 development'

No they haven't. They are just downplaying it in the same way as they did battery electric before they had them for sale.

'“We have a huge hydrogen car programme ongoing,” said Krebs. “We have a lot of cars that are being tested with a fuel cell stack, but we have to make clear that hydrogen vehicles in bigger numbers will not happen before 2020. There is no infrastructure available and the technology is extremely expensive and not as reliable as conventional vehicles.”'


Durability is a big issue with the current generation of fuel cells, but is being improved rapidly.


If you had to comply with California ZEV laws, would you go for a multi billion dollar FCV program with no sure success or do like Ford, have someone like Magna make you an EV from an existing car on a fixed price contract with sure results. I know which on I would do.


I think you are mistaken on the motivation for the fuel cell programs.
ZEV credits are nice to have, but they all started the programs many years before they were thought of, and spent large sums of money on them.
They are developing fuel cells because they think that they will work well, and I think that the rate of progress and the lack of fundamental technical barriers shows that they are right.
That is not to dismiss batteries, but to say that both will play a part in transport.


You're in good company SJC. Most automakers don't want to build EV, because they don't want to invest in the technology. Dieter Zetsche said exactly that just a few days ago, the same week Daimler pocketed $780 million - a $730 capital gain - from their investment in Tesla. He apparently thinks that not making the kind of investment BMW did in their "i" platform is some kind of a win.

BMWs $3bn investment has achieved 124 mpge in a practical highway capable car. They are not only "in the game", the investment has put them in the position of winning the game. The technology can be extended to their entire product line with resulting improvements in acceleration, braking, and fuel economy.

Automakers deploy capital to develop intellectual property and unique capabilities - in technology, manufacturing capability and processes which give them a competitive advantage. It's what they do.

How is outsourcing these fundamental competencies a long term winning strategy?

Thomas Lankester

I don't think the lack of fundamental technical barriers is the Achilles heel of hydrogen fuel cells. It is the fundamental energetics. To generate hydrogen renewably is fundamentally less efficient (per km travelled) than putting the same renewable electricity directly into a battery. Currently renewable electricity is such a rare commodity it should not be squandered.


If you were able to get the energy when you need it, fair enough, and if I ruled the world then we would build out nuclear to do it and put in into BEVs or electric highways or whatever we could technically do.

The problems come if you want a lot of renewables in the grid instead, as you can't get the energy when you want it.

Hydrogen deals with that problem.
Sure it is lossy, but so is everything, the question is whether it is efficient enough to do the job.

It is, and either fuel cell cars or battery electric cars are vastly better than the ICE we use at the moment.

In any case VW, who are based in a country which is trying to move to 100% renewables, are planning to use fuel cells are range extenders based on their PHEV cars, so that everyday running around is on electricity, and hydrogen handles the bit it is good at, zero emission at point of use, long distance, fast refuelling journeys.

Fuel cells and batteries are not antithetical, but two complementary means to achieve the goal, getting off oil and cutting out pollution and the damage to health it does, and should be employed as appropriate where they are the most suitable tool for the job.



To me, being asked to chose between fuel cells and batteries as 'the way to go' is a bit like being asked to chose between steel and aluminium to build things with, and never using the other one!

To the question: 'Which is best?' the only sensible answer is: 'It depends'.


Sakti3 claims their solid state battery holds 1100 Wh per liter. There is some speculation that GM will use that battery in the 2016 Sonic EV. I doubt that because they have not announced a manufacturer nor built in volume yet.


(BEVs VS FCEVs) is a lot like (long haul trucks VS trains - barges - ships and cargo planes) etc. The last five transportation means are all good and extensively used.

There is no doubt the (medium and long range) BEVs and FCEVs could be put in massive use in most countries.

Buyers should be the one to decide which one is more suited to their needs.


The biggest increase in battery energy within the next two years for production that I think credible is in the Mercedes, as they are nowhere near qualifying for Chinese city ZEV status and they have to have that, and have said they reckon they can go from 30-50 km on the NEDC in the same packaging.
For full production two years out you aren't in the lab, but in small scale production and road testing right now.
I don't have specs on the present Mercedes PHEV battery, but doubt that the new one will take them over the volumetric energy density of those in the Tesla at the moment.

It is proving really tough to significantly increase the density of batteries, which is part of the reason for the high levels of interest in fuel cells.


Future batteries energy density, quick charge capability, improved cyclability (duration) and cost have to be improved by about 100% before Extended range EVs compete favorably with ICEVs.

All that will probably happen between 2020 and 2030.

Solid States 1000+ Wh/L batteries may be one possible solution. Other solutions are a strong possibilty.

Too bad USABC is not doing what it was intended to do to promote better lower cost batteries.


Daimler to cease production of Li-ion battery cells


Patrick Free

@ Davemart.
Using fuel cells as range extenders based on PHEV cars is something out of reach price wise, and may not be that desirable either.
Until recently I was pushing for good PHEVs, ideally set with all electric drive trains, and in any case with at least 200HP of electric motor(s) and 30KWH battery (allowing one charge every 2 x days so it lasts as long as the rest of the car), plus an ICE range extender working as never tracting pure generator, that could have been the optimum middle step, for my main / all purposes familly car replacement, ... by the time full EVs can do that job 100%, in may be 10 years, when reaching # 500M # 160KWH nirvana battery capacity, backed with Tesla-like 135KW chargers rolled all across Europe down to my southern Europe summer holliday places, and my Alps winter skying locations.
But even then I wanted the most regular petrol fuel for the Range Extender, and no greeny fuel. Because by definition this RE would only be used a few times per year, when in wild locations outside main cities and main axis, in the middle of nowhere, where I don't expect to find more green fuels - including Hydrogen - than fast chargers, before ages, and purpose of the RE was precisely to cover when driving to these wild places, occasionally, so I dont have to loose my vacations freedom.
But last month, I visited Tesla booth on Paris Motor Show, and it changed all my plans. Tesla shrunk the time hugely, presenting a Europe map of their 135KW Superchargers showing all my vacation places covered by 2016, with a supercharger # every 250KM. Leaving # ZERO room for my good PHEV that anyway no vendor had agreed to make for me... The Germans all following Porsche Panamera meaningless approach of some sort of "Electric Turbo put on top of largest 6 Cyl ICE engine", with no decent all electric mode (Ridiculous 100HP motor for a 2.5 Tons Cayenne eHybrid, plus worst of all 10KWH battery whose 3K cycles will be consumed in 5 to 6 years with 2 x charges per year required to do all electric my 65KM daily local commutes). So I had to discard them for now. Last hope on that side was BMW i5 but now rumors says it may end on Hydrogen, so end of that story for me too.
By the time a good reworked PHEV could come out now, say 2016, the game will be over and I could buy a Tesla Model X, hopefully improved to 110KWH battery by then thanks to TESLA GigaFactory expected +30% benefit, once at full speed with new 800mAh cells...
So I stopped chasing a PHEV, and decided to delay my car change to early 2016 and save even more € by then to get to the # €80K mini budget expected fpor top end Model X....
For me this game is over, and Tesla already won it.

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