Revving up electric car industry, Israeli firm develops 5-minute-charge battery

Herzliya-based startup StoreDot unveils solution for main obstacle to widespread use of electric vehicles, but it requires major upgrades to charging stations

Israeli company StoreDot announced Tuesday that in a landmark achievement in the electric vehicle industry, it had managed to develop the world’s first car battery that can be fully charged in just five minutes.

However, the invention will take time to become commercially feasible since the ultra-fast charge would require much higher-power chargers than are currently available, The Guardian reported.

Electric cars, which are a major part of global attempts to tackle the climate crisis, have faced the challenge of batteries taking hours to fully charge, giving rise to “range anxiety” — the fear of a battery running out mid-journey and the driver getting stranded at a charging station.

But now, provided that charging stations undergo a major upgrade, which could take years, charging an electric car could become as quick as stopping to refuel a gas-run vehicle.

In June last year, the startup said it achieved a “world first” when it fully charged a two-wheeled electric vehicle in just five minutes, together with BP Ventures, the venture arm of the British multinational oil and gas firm BP plc, which has invested $20 million into the startup.

It has also demonstrated ultra-fast charging times for phones, drones and scooters.

A Volkswagen (VW) electric car is plugged into power at a service station in Berlin on February 2, 2016. (AFP PHOTO / TOBIAS SCHWARZ)

StoreDot has raised $130 million to date from investors including BP Ventures; Samsung Venture Investment, Daimler AG, the maker of the Mercedes Benz cars; and electrical and electronics maker TDK Corporation.

Some 1,000 of the batteries developed by StoreDot have already been manufactured in China by German firm Eve Systems, and are meant for showcasing the technology to carmakers and other companies, according to The Guardian.

Doron Myersdorf, the co-founder and CEO of StoreDot (Courtesy)

“We are proud to make these samples available, but today’s milestone is just the beginning,” StoreDot CEO Doron Myersdorf said in a statement. “We’re on the cusp of achieving a revolution in the electric vehicle charging experience that will remove the critical barrier to mass adoption of electric vehicles.”

“A five-minute charging lithium-ion battery was considered to be impossible,” Myersdorf added in an interview with The Guardian. “But we are not releasing a lab prototype, we are releasing engineering samples from a mass production line. This demonstrates it is feasible and it’s commercially ready.”

“The bottleneck to extra-fast charging is no longer the battery,” he said, adding that StoreDot is working with BP on upgrading charging stations and grids that supply them.

Prof. Chao-Yang Wang of the Battery and Energy Storage Technology Center at Pennsylvania State University in the US told The Guardian: “I think such fast-charging batteries will be available to the mass market in three years. They will not be more expensive; in fact, they allow automakers to downsize the onboard battery while still eliminating range anxiety, thereby dramatically cutting down the vehicle battery cost.”

Founded in 2012, Herzliya-based StoreDot has developed lithium ion-based battery technology, using nanomaterials and organic and inorganic compounds, which enables ultra-fast charging for various markets.

Shoshanna Solomon contributed to this report.

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