The Race for Solid-State Batteries

Solid-state batteries could reshuffle the deck on the market for electric vehicles. Whether this new generation of batteries can become a real game changer, however, depends on the success of its researchers and developers. Porsche Consulting analyzed the opportunities offered by the new technology.




for solid-state bat­ter­ies 

Longer ranges, faster charging times, greater safety—solid-state batteries offer numerous advantages for electric cars. Many other applications are also conceivable, such as in aerial taxis, commercial vehicles, and buses, as well as stationary energy storage for renewables. The road to market readiness, however, is by no means clear. Six key tasks need to be solved for a breakthrough in the automotive industry alone: improving product properties, converting existing gigafactories to solid-state production, integrating the batteries into vehicle systems, establishing robust supply chains for new materials, reducing costs by enlarging cell formats, and funding the start-up stage.


The bat­tery is con­sid­ered the heart of mod­ern elec­tric vehi­cles. Many car­mak­ers have long relied on the sup­pli­er indus­try for this most impor­tant and valu­able com­po­nent in their prod­ucts. Yet that appears to be chang­ing. To devel­op their own core exper­tise in bat­tery sys­tems and to ele­vate their brands above the com­pe­ti­tion with inno­v­a­tive tech­nol­o­gy, car man­u­fac­tur­ers are invest­ing to an ever greater degree in build­ing their own gigafac­to­ries. Volk­swa­gen alone plans to open six gigafac­to­ries in Europe in the near future—with an over­all pro­duc­tion vol­ume of more than 240 gigawatt hours.

Porsche Con­sult­ing expects the glob­al bat­tery mar­ket to sur­pass 5,500 gigawatt hours by 2030. Two-thirds of this capac­i­ty will be used for pas­sen­ger cars. Accord­ing to its cal­cu­la­tions, the over­all mar­ket will increase ten­fold this decade. But that is only the begin­ning, because in addi­tion to pump­ing bil­lions of euros into their fac­to­ries, auto­mo­tive cor­po­ra­tions are invest­ing enor­mous sums in an entire­ly new gen­er­a­tion of bat­ter­ies. Those could com­plete­ly reshuf­fle the deck in the field of electromobility.

Innovation needs momentum

Dr. Fabi­an Duffn­er, Part­ner in Advanced Tech­nolo­gies at Porsche Con­sult­ing, refers to solid-state bat­ter­ies as game chang­ers. As he sees it, they can not only rev­o­lu­tion­ize the auto­mo­tive world but also enable elec­tri­fi­ca­tion of air­craft, for exam­ple. Their main advan­tages include longer ranges, faster charg­ing times, and greater safe­ty. Above all, they give car­mak­ers a chance to free them­selves soon­er from depen­dence on Asian cell pro­duc­ers. In con­trast to the major pro­duc­ers of con­ven­tion­al lithi­um-ion bat­ter­ies, most of the lead­ers in solid-state bat­tery tech­nol­o­gy are start-ups from the USA.

Duffn­er cau­tions against eupho­ria, how­ev­er. “Solid-state bat­ter­ies are not a sure thing,” he states. “Numer­ous chal­lenges, both tech­ni­cal and eco­nom­ic, need to be mas­tered before indus­tri­al pro­duc­tion can begin.” He lists six key areas of activ­i­ty: improv­ing prod­uct and mate­r­i­al prop­er­ties; trans­form­ing pro­duc­tion to large-scale stan­dards; inte­grat­ing the bat­ter­ies into vehi­cle sys­tems; estab­lish­ing robust sup­ply chains for new mate­ri­als and machin­ery; low­er­ing pro­duc­tion costs; and fund­ing the series devel­op­ment and scale-up stage.

Solid-state batteries can be a real game changer for electrification. But huge challenges need to be overcome before industrial production is possible.

Dr. Fabian DuffnerDr. Fabian Duffner
Partner Advanced Technologies, Porsche Consulting

Despite the many tasks ahead, near­ly all the major car­mak­ers have bought into residue start-ups with the aim of lead­ing the field. Porsche Consulting’s cal­cu­la­tions sug­gest that their invest­ments could pay off. If the chal­lenges are met and the tech­nol­o­gy can go onto the mar­ket as pre­dict­ed, the con­sul­tants see a poten­tial cumu­la­tive mar­ket for indus­tri­al pro­duc­tion of solid-state bat­ter­ies of more than 400 bil­lion euros by 2035.

Will the new tech­nol­o­gy ful­fill its promise and become the next “game chang­er” in the auto­mo­tive and other indus­tries? What steps have to be taken to lay the indus­tri­al foun­da­tions? What is the cur­rent state of the tech­nol­o­gy and what chal­lenges still need to be over­come for the fore­casts to be ful­filled? What oppor­tu­ni­ties and risks do Euro­pean com­pa­nies ulti­mate­ly face? Porsche Con­sult­ing The Mag­a­zine doc­u­ments the cur­rent state of knowl­edge about these and other crit­i­cal ques­tions per­tain­ing to solid-state batteries.

Greater ranges, lower costs:
Car bat­tery devel­op­ment over 130 years

The range keeps extending and the costs keep falling—these are the general development trajectories in the emergence of electromobility. The history of electric cars starts back at the beginning of the 20th century. Average battery prices were still in the six-digit range in the 2000s, however. The early ranges were very low. Around 1900, drivers of a Lohner Porsche with a 400 kg lead battery could expect to cover just about 50 kilometers. The technology only reached market readiness with the invention of the lithium-ion battery in the 1970s and its commercialization in the 1990s.Porsche Consulting/Clara Philippzig

What are the main advantages of solid-state over lithium-ion batteries?

Sur­veys by mar­ket researchers con­sis­tent­ly show that cus­tomers want elec­tric cars to meet the fol­low­ing three main cri­te­ria: long ranges, short charg­ing times, and over­all price tags com­pa­ra­ble to those for com­bus­tion cars. Addi­tion­al demands on the bat­ter­ies have to do with their drive power, safe­ty, and longevi­ty. If elec­tric cars can in fact be mass-pro­duced with solid-state bat­ter­ies, they would meet all these cri­te­ria. This would be pos­si­ble thanks to solid elec­trolytes, which func­tion as sep­a­ra­tors between the anodes and cath­odes. With chem­i­cal­ly sta­ble solid elec­trolytes, the graphite cur­rent­ly used to store ener­gy could be replaced by other mate­ri­als such as lithi­um metal—whose stor­age capac­i­ty is ten times that of graphite by weight. The high­er ener­gy den­si­ty would con­sid­er­ably increase bat­tery vol­ume for the same ener­gy con­tent, which in turn would enable ranges to real­is­ti­cal­ly exceed 750 kilo­me­ters as early as 2030.

Finally—Longer range, faster charging, greater safety, and lower costs

More­over, ions can be trans­port­ed faster through solid elec­trolytes, which would put an end to today’s lengthy charg­ing times. Experts esti­mate that it will take no more than ten min­utes to “fuel” an elec­tric car’s bat­tery. This would be hard­ly any dif­fer­ent than fill­ing a tank with gaso­line or diesel. The new tech­nol­o­gy will also enhance safe­ty, because the liq­uid elec­trolytes in con­ven­tion­al lithi­um-ion bat­ter­ies are flam­ma­ble. Although it is extreme­ly rare for lithi­um-ion bat­ter­ies to catch fire, the risk can be vir­tu­al­ly exclud­ed for solid-state batteries.

“In sum, the advan­tages of solid-state over lithi­um-ion bat­ter­ies are enor­mous. How­ev­er, the tech­ni­cal issues that have to be solved before the bat­ter­ies are ready for series pro­duc­tion are of a rough­ly sim­i­lar mag­ni­tude,” observes Duffner.

I believe solid-state lithium-metal batteries will deliver a step-change improvement in performance compared to today’s lithium-ion batteries. Adoption will skyrocket when electric vehicles are equipped with batteries that deliver higher energy density, faster charging times and enhanced safety. That’s what we’re trying to bring to market.

Dr. Tim HolmeDr. Tim Holme
Chief Technology Officer,

The cell “breathes”
Lithi­um-ion ver­sus anode­less batteries

All batteries have three layers: an anode, a separator, and a cathode. In a conventional lithium-ion battery, the anode and cathode actively store energy in the form of lithium and the separator provides good insulation between the electrodes. The charge carriers (lithium ions) are transported through a liquid electrolyte during the charging and discharging processes. The liquid electrolyte is the main difference between lithium-ion and solid-state batteries, because the latter uses composite cathodes and solid electrolyte separators instead. For anodeless versions of the solid-state battery, the anode is formed when lithium metal deposits during the charging phase and disperses during discharge. The volumetric fluctuations of these batteries pose challenges to their use in vehicles.Porsche Consulting/Clara Philippzig

Which markets are relevant for solid-state batteries?

If the asso­ci­at­ed chal­lenges can be mas­tered, solid-state bat­ter­ies will most like­ly replace lithi­um-ion mod­els in many areas by 2035. There will prob­a­bly be a tran­si­tion­al stage in which they will ini­tial­ly only be seen in high-end mar­ket seg­ments due to lower pro­duc­tion vol­umes and high­er costs. Pre­dic­tions from Porsche Con­sult­ing indi­cate that pre­mi­um car brands will be the first to hit the roads with solid-state bat­ter­ies on board. At the same time, solid-state drive sys­tems might also see ini­tial use in air­craft. These will not be large pas­sen­ger and cargo planes but rather elec­tric ver­ti­cal take­off and land­ing craft (eVTOLs)—small fly­ing machines with two to six seats that could soon shift taxi ser­vices into the skies. The advan­tages of solid-state bat­ter­ies here include their lower weight, their high­er per­for­mance of spe­cial rel­e­vance for take­off and land­ing, and not least of all their pos­i­tive safe­ty fea­tures. Over the medi­um term, they will be able to power flights of up to 1,000 kilometers.

One battery, many applications

In terms of cost, solid-state bat­ter­ies will only be able gain an edge over lithi­um-ion sys­tems after 2030, when indus­tri­al pro­duc­tion of the new tech­nol­o­gy picks up speed and fur­ther advances in mate­r­i­al effi­cien­cy are made. At that point they will almost cer­tain­ly have lifes­pans equal to or greater than their pre­de­ces­sor mod­els. The use of solid-state bat­ter­ies will then by no means be lim­it­ed to elec­tric cars. “On the con­trary,” says Dr. Xiao­han Wu, Senior Expert at Porsche Con­sult­ing. “The over­all improve­ment in bat­tery KPIs will enable other sec­tors to be elec­tri­fied, which is cur­rent­ly incon­ceiv­able with today’s technology.”

Even if numerous technical hurdles still stand in the way of series production, lab results already show not only the viability of the solid-state principle but also its outstanding potential.

Professor Jürgen JanekProfessor Jürgen Janek
Justus Liebig University Giessen

When will the first solid-state batteries be ready for series production?

Although these bat­ter­ies have plen­ty of poten­tial and what looks like an enor­mous range of appli­ca­tions, research in the field still seems like bet­ting on the future. Although devel­op­ers have already designed cells that work at room tem­per­a­ture, it could take a few years before large-scale series pro­duc­tion is pos­si­ble. Nor is that a sure thing, because the most promis­ing con­cepts have thus far only been demon­strat­ed with lab pro­to­types or are still in pilot phas­es. At any rate, the indus­try is still quite far from the high­ly auto­mat­ed pro­duc­tion sys­tems cur­rent­ly used for lithi­um-ion batteries.

Pilot projects starting in 2024

In addi­tion to the start-ups based pri­mar­i­ly in the USA, com­pe­ten­cy clus­ters have been formed world­wide, all seek­ing to indus­tri­al­ize solid-state cells. In Japan, vehi­cle man­u­fac­tur­ers are dri­ving the devel­op­ment of solid-state bat­ter­ies as part of the NEDO indus­tri­al con­sor­tium, togeth­er with cell man­u­fac­tur­ers and mate­r­i­al sup­pli­ers along the entire value chain. If experts’ expec­ta­tions are met, pilot projects could be launched in 2024 and large-scale series pro­duc­tion might then fol­low around 2027. It would ini­tial­ly be lim­it­ed to the pre­mi­um vehi­cle seg­ment, which is less sen­si­tive to cost pres­sures. “We antic­i­pate full indus­tri­al­iza­tion as of 2030, with cor­re­spond­ing­ly high­er per­for­mance and lower pro­duc­tion costs,” says Dr. Wu. The dis­rup­tive qual­i­ty of the new tech­nol­o­gy would be evi­dent by then at the lat­est, and could affect the entire auto­mo­tive indus­try. Porsche Con­sult­ing accord­ing­ly expects cars with solid-state bat­ter­ies to make up 5 to 15 per­cent of the mar­ket by 2035, which could mean as many as 35 mil­lion vehi­cles out on the roads.

A Nobel Prize was awarded for the invention of the lithium-ion battery. Industrialization of lithium-metal solid-state batteries, which are superior in every way, would qualify for another!

Professor Martin WinterProfessor Martin Winter
Director, Münster Electrochemical Energy Technology (MEET), University of Münster (WWU)

Can gigafactories currently making lithium-ion batteries be converted to solid-state production?

Although late to the game, Ger­man car­mak­ers are now fully focused on elec­tro­mo­bil­i­ty and have announced invest­ments worth bil­lions of euros in new gigafac­to­ries. These fac­to­ries, how­ev­er, are designed to make the power sys­tems cur­rent­ly dom­i­nat­ing the mar­ket for elec­tric cars, name­ly lithi­um-ion bat­ter­ies. What will hap­pen if the tech­ni­cal issues sur­round­ing solid-state bat­ter­ies can be resolved by 2027 or so? Can cur­rent pro­duc­tion process­es be eas­i­ly adapt­ed to the new and bet­ter tech­nol­o­gy? “We esti­mate that around 40 per­cent of the machin­ery in today’s gigafac­to­ries is also suit­able for mak­ing solid-state bat­ter­ies,” says Pro­fes­sor Jens Leker from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Mün­ster (WWU).

But it’s not just a mat­ter of machin­ery. Process­es and man­u­fac­tur­ing meth­ods also need to be com­plete­ly revamped. That is impor­tant to ensure cell pro­duc­tion effi­cien­cy. While some stan­dard process­es can be retained, for instance in pow­der com­po­si­tion, coat­ing, and cal­en­dar­ing, oth­ers would need to be added, for exam­ple in lam­i­na­tion as well as sin­ter­ing and press­ing. Given the mate­r­i­al prop­er­ties of solid-state elec­trolytes, a larg­er num­ber of process steps would also have to be done in a con­trolled atmosphere.

Converting today’s lithium-ion factories to solid-state battery production will require considerable resources, because around 60 percent of the machines and systems will have to be replaced and the different production areas re-dimensioned.

Professor Jens LekerProfessor Jens Leker
University of Münster (WWU)

More streamlined and economical

These and other spe­cif­ic prop­er­ties of solid-state bat­ter­ies would lead to high­er pro­duc­tion costs than for today’s lithi­um-ion bat­ter­ies. On the other hand, some prop­er­ties of solid-state bat­ter­ies could yield sig­nif­i­cant sav­ings. Solid-state prod­ucts can admit of more sta­ble mate­r­i­al com­bi­na­tions, for exam­ple. This in turn could con­sid­er­ably stream­line for­ma­tion and aging processes—production steps that take up around a third of the space in today’s gigafac­to­ries. More­over, the fill­ing process for liq­uid elec­trolytes would no longer be rel­e­vant, includ­ing the time need­ed for the liq­uid to infuse the porous active materials.

When it comes to poten­tial sav­ings, how­ev­er, the anode is the key com­po­nent. Pro­duc­ing the anodes for lithi­um-ion bat­ter­ies is extreme­ly time-inten­sive, and also asso­ci­at­ed with high costs. Around 15 to 20 per­cent of the floor space in today’s plants is devot­ed to anode pro­duc­tion alone. If anodes are not need­ed, man­u­fac­tur­ers would not need the rel­e­vant mate­ri­als or machin­ery, either. Nor would the skilled pro­duc­tion per­son­nel be need­ed, or they could be trans­ferred to other areas. The most inno­v­a­tive start-ups in the solid-state field—Quantumscape, for instance—are there­fore pur­su­ing cell con­cepts with­out any active mate­ri­als on the anodes at all. Suc­cess­ful devel­op­ment of anode-free solid-state cells will be cru­cial for the new gen­er­a­tion of bat­ter­ies, accord­ing to Duffn­er. “Solid-state bat­ter­ies will only trig­ger the expect­ed trans­for­ma­tion in the auto­mo­tive and other indus­tries if anode-free con­cepts can be estab­lished and the cor­re­spond­ing cost ben­e­fits achieved.”

Nine steps to a solid-state battery
How fac­to­ries can be restructured

Cell production can be divided into three main conventional processes: electrode production, cell assembly, and formation. For anodeless batteries, electrode production can dispense with the entire anode process, including composition, coating, drying, and calendaring. The factory space thus freed can be used to make separators from solid electrolytes. Although a significant cost factor, the multiple-hour sintering process is essential for the requisite conductivity. Cell assembly processes differ markedly for lithium-ion and solid-state batteries. The stacking process for solid-state batteries has to be adapted for solid layers. Because solid-state cell formats are currently smaller than for lithium-ion cells, more are required for the same battery capacity, which means more factory space is needed for the stacking process. Although the liquid electrolyte filling process is no longer relevant, solid-state battery layers need to be joined, which requires a new process step. Formation, the final production stage, can be considerably streamlined thanks to the more stable material combinations in solid-state batteries.

What other challenges are associated with solid-state batteries?

In addi­tion to their pro­duc­tion, solu­tions also need to be found for inte­grat­ing the bat­ter­ies into vehi­cles. The main prob­lem here is that solid-state bat­ter­ies can be said to “breathe.” The expan­sion and con­trac­tion process for lithi­um-metal anodes can take up more than ten cen­time­ters of space in a vehi­cle. Engi­neers there­fore have to find ways of inte­grat­ing vol­ume fluc­tu­a­tions of this mag­ni­tude into an oth­er­wise rigid vehi­cle struc­ture. In addi­tion, today’s pro­to­type cells require sub­stan­tial­ly larg­er for­mats to be rel­e­vant for the auto­mo­tive indus­try and other applications.

The mate­ri­als are yet anoth­er field with a con­sid­er­able list of tasks to be tack­led before indus­tri­al­iza­tion is pos­si­ble. The mate­r­i­al prop­er­ties of the three main com­po­nents of solid-state batteries—solid elec­trolytes, cath­odes, and anodes—need to be improved. The cath­ode mate­r­i­al and solid elec­trolyte have to be chem­i­cal­ly com­pat­i­ble, for exam­ple via a suit­able coat­ing on the cath­ode mate­r­i­al. Unde­sir­able aux­il­iary reac­tions can oth­er­wise sig­nif­i­cant­ly reduce the solid-state battery’s lifes­pan. The solid elec­trolytes them­selves also need con­sid­er­able enhance­ment. Above all, researchers need to work on their chem­i­cal sta­bil­i­ty. In addi­tion, ion trans­port has to be fur­ther accel­er­at­ed if solid-state bat­ter­ies are to one day form the heart of sports cars.

In order for solid-state bat­ter­ies to achieve the envi­sioned ener­gy den­si­ty, it is impor­tant to reduce the thick­ness of the coat­ing on the solid elec­trolyte sep­a­ra­tor to fewer than 20 microm­e­ters. That is rough­ly three times thin­ner than a human hair. It poses a huge chal­lenge for large-lot pro­duc­tion, because the sep­a­ra­tors have to be not only thin but also “pin­hole free,” i.e., with­out the tini­est irreg­u­lar­i­ties on their sur­faces. More­over, these dense sep­a­ra­tors are need­ed on a very large scale: if a pro­duc­tion capac­i­ty of 20 gigawatt hours is to be achieved, sep­a­ra­tors are need­ed that, laid side by side, would cover an area of 150 mil­lion square meters—equivalent to around 20,000 soc­cer fields. To keep costs under con­trol here, fail­ure rates for these valu­able solid elec­trolyte sep­a­ra­tors need to be minimized.

Securing new supply chains

It will take a few years for researchers and devel­op­ers to improve the prop­er­ties of solid-state bat­ter­ies to the point that indus­tri­al pro­duc­tion can begin. But even that will not mean all the prob­lems are solved. The industry’s next step will con­sist of set­ting up sup­ply chains for the new mate­ri­als. In doing so, the exist­ing chains for lithi­um-ion bat­ter­ies will be of only lim­it­ed use. The req­ui­site set of chem­i­cals is sim­ply too dif­fer­ent. Sup­plies of high-demand raw mate­ri­als like lithi­um, in par­tic­u­lar, will need to sta­bi­lized with respect to both their avail­abil­i­ty and price. Solid-state elec­trolytes con­tain up to 50 times more lithi­um per unit of vol­ume than con­ven­tion­al liq­uid electrolytes.

Given these con­sid­er­a­tions, Porsche Consulting’s bat­tery experts pre­dict it could take up to two years before the sup­pli­er indus­try builds its first plants for the nec­es­sary mate­ri­als. Con­struc­tion and start-up of the actu­al bat­tery plants could take even longer, with experts esti­mat­ing at least two and a half years here. “To save time and costs, the play­ers should start prepar­ing early on and coor­di­nate their process­es,” says Senior Expert Wu.

Indus­tri­al­iza­tion of solid-state bat­ter­ies is also asso­ci­at­ed with major finan­cial risks. Con­struct­ing a pilot plant in the megawatt range already costs 500 mil­lion to one bil­lion euros. If plan­ners envi­sion build­ing their own gigafac­to­ry with a capac­i­ty of up to 20 gigawatt hours, this will require an addi­tion­al invest­ment of around two bil­lion euros. Machines, sys­tems, and build­ings will cost 1 to 1.5 bil­lion. And anoth­er 0.5 to 1 bil­lion are pro­ject­ed dur­ing the start-up phase for high fail­ure rates and for fac­to­ry per­son­nel. It is there­fore hard­ly sur­pris­ing that start-ups like Solid Power and Solid Ener­gy Sys­tem began look­ing for part­ners early on—whether in con­nec­tion with con­tract pro­duc­tion or as joint ven­tures with carmakers.

Continued funding for technological advances will be a critical factor in the success of these start-ups. It costs around a billion euros just to scale up from lab to pilot production. Another two billion are needed to put a gigafactory into operation.

Dr. Xiaohan WuDr. Xiaohan Wu
Senior Expert,
Porsche Consulting

Which companies are the leaders in solid-state battery development?

While Asian man­u­fac­tur­ers like CATL and LG dom­i­nate lithi­um-ion tech­nol­o­gy, most of the lead­ers in solid-state bat­tery tech­nol­o­gy are start-ups in the USA. The estab­lished Asian play­ers are not leav­ing the field with­out a fight, how­ev­er. For exam­ple, lead­ing cell man­u­fac­tur­ers in Korea are form­ing close part­ner­ships with their sup­pli­ers to drive the tech­nol­o­gy for­ward. The big car­mak­ers appear to have learned their les­son from lithi­um-ion bat­ter­ies. In order to pre­vent fur­ther depen­dence on Asian sup­pli­ers, they have been invest­ing heav­i­ly in tech start-ups.

Volk­swa­gen alone has invest­ed more than 300 mil­lion dol­lars in Quan­tum­scape, a Cal­i­for­nia-based start-up that spe­cial­izes in anode­less solid-state bat­ter­ies with solid ceram­ic sep­a­ra­tors. In April 2021, Ford and BMW announced they were invest­ing a total of 130 mil­lion dol­lars in Solid Power, a bat­tery devel­op­er in Col­orado. Solid Power plans to start by bring­ing solid-state bat­ter­ies with sil­i­con anodes to the mar­ket, and then take the sec­ond step of fur­nish­ing them with lithi­um-metal anodes. In any case, these invest­ments appear to have paid off. Both Quan­tum­scape and Solid Power are list­ed on the stock mar­ket and have attained uni­corn sta­tus with mar­ket cap­i­tal­iza­tion of more than a bil­lion dollars.

Use of 3D printers

Mer­cedes has also made major invest­ments as part of its “Elec­tric only” strat­e­gy. In Jan­u­ary 2022 the cor­po­ra­tion expand­ed its col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Tai­wanese provider Pro­logium by sev­er­al tens of mil­lions of euros. It also bought into Fac­to­r­i­al Ener­gy, a Mass­a­chu­setts-based com­pa­ny whose back­ers include Stel­lan­tis (Fiat, Peu­geot, Chrysler). In Europe, Ilika and Blue Solu­tions (Bol­loré Group) are espe­cial­ly promi­nent in solid-state bat­tery devel­op­ment. While Ilika’s strong show­ing with small-for­mat pro­to­types has attract­ed investors like Jaguar, Land Rover, and Honda, Blue Solu­tions’ solid-state poly­mer bat­ter­ies have already seen com­mer­cial use in elec­tric buses (eCitaro) from Mer­cedes. The tech­nol­o­gy is not well suit­ed for use in pas­sen­ger cars, because the tem­per­a­ture behav­ior requires a long pre­heat­ing peri­od before start-up.

While mate­r­i­al inno­va­tions are dri­ving the devel­op­ment of solid-state bat­ter­ies, new pro­duc­tion meth­ods could boost the indus­tri­al­iza­tion process. Sakuu, a Cal­i­for­nia start-up, has devel­oped a new 3D print­ing process for solid-state bat­ter­ies. Sakuu wants the tech­nique to accel­er­ate pro­duc­tion of the new bat­tery gen­er­a­tion, lower costs, and reduce space requirements.

The introduction of cost-competitive solid-state batteries can only occur once large-scale manufacturability is achieved. New techniques such as 3D printing could provide a start-to-finish solution with the necessary material, energy, and capital expenditure savings.

Arwed NiestrojArwed Niestroj
Senior Vice President Mobility and Product, Sakuu

It remains to be seen who will end up win­ning this race. Chi­nese pro­duc­ers should not be dis­count­ed. The major Asian play­ers have a dif­fer­ent start­ing sit­u­a­tion and can there­fore devel­op dif­fer­ent strate­gies of rel­e­vance to solid-state bat­ter­ies. They are seek­ing in large part to opti­mize exist­ing lithi­um-ion bat­ter­ies. This can be achieved not least of all by suc­ces­sive­ly installing solid elec­trolytes to pro­duce what are known as “semi-solid-state bat­ter­ies.” Chi­nese man­u­fac­tur­ers enjoy sub­stan­tial ben­e­fits from their exist­ing gigafac­to­ries, which allow engi­neers to try out many new devel­op­ments in actu­al practice.

What opportunities arise for companies?

The dis­rup­tive poten­tial of solid-state bat­ter­ies is open­ing up entire­ly new oppor­tu­ni­ties, accord­ing to experts. While Asian man­u­fac­tur­ers were instru­men­tal in cre­at­ing the lithi­um-ion bat­tery busi­ness, Ger­man and other Euro­pean com­pa­nies can now take the entire value chain for solid-state bat­ter­ies into their own hands. The finan­cial prospects are promis­ing, accord­ing to the experts at Porsche Con­sult­ing. The mar­ket poten­tial for cell pro­duc­ers alone is esti­mat­ed at 200 bil­lion euros by 2035. Anoth­er 150 bil­lion euros are esti­mat­ed for the mate­r­i­al and sup­pli­er indus­tries. And mechan­i­cal engi­neer­ing com­pa­nies that con­cen­trate on equip­ping the new gigafac­to­ries can expect sales of 70 bil­lion euros.

The shift in technology to solid-state batteries is a chance for mechanical engineering companies to enter all stages of the production process: With high transferability of lithium-ion expertise for established companies, and with lower transferability also for newcomers.

Dr. Sarah MichaelisDr. Sarah Michaelis
Director Battery Production, Association of German Machinery and Equipment Manufacturers (VDMA)

That being said, some obsta­cles need to be over­come. It remains unclear how the cells can be made on an indus­tri­al scale with the req­ui­site qual­i­ty stan­dards. And the mechan­i­cal engi­neer­ing sec­tor has appar­ent­ly not read the signs of the time. As of 2022, there were sim­ply no suit­able indus­tri­al sys­tems for pro­duc­ing solid-state bat­ter­ies. In other words, there are still some open ques­tions on the road to the solid-state bat­tery. The first play­ers who can pro­vide the right answers will reap the com­mer­cial ben­e­fits in the future.

Asia leads 2:0 at halftime in the lithium-ion game. We in Europe should take the opportunity right away to move out ahead in production technology and machinery for solid-state batteries.

Gregor GrandlGregor Grandl
Senior Partner,
Porsche Consulting



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