Will EV battery tech see use in heavy machinery of the future?

Competition in the all-electric passenger vehicle segment is heating up, and one of the major points of contention is battery technology. Lithium-ion packs are all the rage these days, but critical figures like range-per-charge and charge times are lagging compared to the internal combustion alternatives. However, technology development might soon turn the tables, and now, it looks as though Caterpillar is considering solid-state batteries as a possible investment for the future.

First, A Little Back Story

2011 Fisker Karma
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Note: original Fisker Karma pictured here.

For those of you who may be unaware, Henrik Fisker is a Danish-born American designer best known for his role in the creation of the Galpin-Fisker Mustang Rocket, the BMW Z8, the VLF Destino, and the Aston Martin DB9, among others.

Fisker founded his own car company back in 2007, naming it Fisker Automotive and developing a plug-in hybrid electric sports sports sedan called the Karma.

Fisker Automotive built roughly 2,500 units of the Karma over a period of about two years, but in November of 2013, the company went bankrupt.

Several factors contributed to the company’s failure, including the arguably overly complicated technical design of the Karma, but one of the biggest blows was the bankruptcy of Fisker’s battery supplier, A123 Systems.

After going belly-up, Fisker Automotive was bought out by the Chinese automotive group Wanxiang, at which time the company changed names to Karma Automotive, with Mr. Fisker maintaining ownership over his namesake.

Despite the failings of Fisker Automotive, Mr. Fisker decided to have a second go at building his own cars, and in 2016, launched Fisker Inc.

Fisker's Second Run Looks Promising Thanks to an Investment From Caterpillar for Solid-State Battery Technology
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Note: Fisker eMotion pictured here.

The new company’s first model is dubbed the eMotion, and it offers tons of good stuff, including 400 miles per charge, highly autonomous drive systems, and a gorgeous exterior design, all for about $130,000.

At least that’s the plan, as the model has yet to actually hit production, although the company
is currently taking reservations for the car at $2,000 a piece.

Perhaps as a means of avoiding the hardship experienced by Fisker Automotive due to its dependence on A123 Systems, Fisker Inc. hopes to develop its own proprietary battery technology. Like the eMotion, the tech intended to run it is full of promises, including upwards of 500 miles per charge and charge times on par with a traditional gas fill-up at the pump.

An Investment In The Future?

Fisker's Second Run Looks Promising Thanks to an Investment From Caterpillar for Solid-State Battery Technology
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The latest news comes from our friends at Electrek, who reports that Fisker Inc. just got an investment from Caterpillar, the well-known manufacturer of heavy machinery, with a focus on the development of Fisker’s new solid-state battery tech.

It makes a lot of sense for Caterpillar to get in on solid-state batteries at this early stage, as the technology would work well in powering the heavy-duty equipment that Caterpillar is known for.

After all, electric motors are excellent when it comes to creating loads of low-end torque, all with quiet operation and fewer moving parts as well. Take that combination of characteristics, then add in fast charge times and high energy density, and it makes for a win in the heavy-duty equipment industry.

Of course, it bears mentioning that the original Fisker Karma should stand as a bit of a red flag for starry-eyed optimists. The original was definitely ahead of its time, and although it was both beautiful and fun to drive, it was too expensive to produce and would occasionally, well, self-combust.

That said, battery technology has come a long way since the original Karma, so perhaps we could be looking at a shot at redemption for Fisker. Only time will tell which is which.

Further Reading

Fisker's Second Run Looks Promising Thanks to an Investment From Caterpillar for Solid-State Battery Technology
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Read our full review on the 2019 Fisker eMotion.

2011 Fisker Karma
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Read our full review on the 2011 Fisker Karma.

Source: Electrek

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