To help electric cars go mainstream, new battery technology will be needed to escape the shackles of short ranges, long charging times, and relatively high cost.

Among the possibilities is a solid-state battery--which replaces the liquid electrolyte of a conventional battery with solid material.

Now, solid-state batteries are starting to get attention from the car industry.

RELATED: Better Batteries Coming Soon, Experts Agree: A Video Panel Worth Watching

In this case, the attention came in the form of encouraging words from Volkswagen Group CEO Martin Winterkorn.

Volkswagen e-Up test drive, Berlin, March 2014

Volkswagen e-Up test drive, Berlin, March 2014

In a speech at Stanford University last week (via ChargedEVs), Winterkorn said that he sees "great potential" in solid-batteries for future electric cars.

Replacing a liquid electrolyte with a solid is expected to greatly streamline battery design, allowing for increases in energy density--potentially enough for 435 miles of range from a reasonably-sized battery pack.

MORE: Sakti3 Battery Firm: Key To GM 200-Mile Electric Car, $100 Per kWh By End Of Decade?

This is partly because of the ability to use large-capacity electrode materials such as sulfur and lithium in these batteries.

As Ann Marie Sastry--founder and CEO of battery maker Sakti3--noted in a recent panel discussion on battery development, solid-state batteries also offer scalability in both size and volume, giving carmakers potentially more flexibility.

2015 Volkswagen e-Golf (Euro spec) - Driven, Portland OR, July 2014 (credit: NWAPA)

2015 Volkswagen e-Golf (Euro spec) - Driven, Portland OR, July 2014 (credit: NWAPA)

Sakti3 is currently targeting a cost of just $100 per kilowatt-hour for its solid-state cells, a crucial point at which electric cars will cost the same or even less than internal-combustion vehicles.

In his speech, Winterkorn indicated that VW is aiming for a similar target. He said lowering cell prices to 100 euros (about $124) per kWh would "significantly increase the market potential for electric vehicles."

Exactly when battery technology will hit that target is still unclear. But with so much attention being invested in making better batteries, it may be only a matter of time.


Follow GreenCarReports on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.