The South Korean supplier SK Innovation revealed Thursday that it’s developing cells that will only need two quick 10-minute charges to cover more than 500 miles of range when installed in an EV.
SKI said that it expects to complete the development of the new cells by the first half of next year—or as soon as the end of the year—after which they “can play a significant role in the spread of EVs,” the company said in an accompanying press release.
The announcement, made at a battery-tech trade conference sponsored by the South Korean government, didn’t yet include any details of the chemistry used by the new cells, although it did say that the long range is supported by technology using high-density nickels and tech that can accommodate more than 1,000 charge/discharge cycles.
For SKI's near-future tech, EVs might be able to pack a more modest cell capacity—in a small-car footprint, for instance—and still be able to do long-distance road trips with a minimum of break time for charging.
The supplier says that it has decided to focus its development efforts on “long-life batteries that enable long-range driving,” and early this year revealed a new “SK Inside” branding strategy aiming for more awareness.
2020 Kia Niro EV
Although Kia and Hyundai and Kia electric vehicles might share some EV propulsion components and even software, most Hyundai models, like the Kona Electric, use LG Chem cells while most Kia models, such as the Kia Niro EV, use cells from rival supplier SK Innovation.
The two suppliers have been in a longtime legal dispute in which LG Chem alleges that SKI breached trade secrets and is producing cells too close to those it’s developed.
SKI pointed out that it developed its first lithium-ion batteries in 1996, and it’s supplied batteries for EVs and plug-in hybrids for 10 years without a single battery-fire incident.
The timing in pointing that out might not be coincidental. The Chevrolet Bolt EV is the subject of a NHTSA safety probe for several instances of fire, while Hyundai is recalling the Kona Electric for an issue relating to fires when the vehicle is parked and fully charged. Both of those models are powered by cells from LG Chem, not SKI.
Rendering of SK Innovation battery factories in Commerce, Georgia
SK Innovation is in the process of building a two-factory complex in Georgia that will supply cells for up to 300,000 vehicles, including the Volkswagen ID.4, when it’s made in Chattanooga starting in 2022, and the Ford F-150 Electric, which will be made in Michigan starting in 2022.