Companies love to claim that they’ve discovered the Next Big Thing in lithium-ion batteries, and Toshiba is the latest to jump on this wagon.
Toshiba announced that its next-generation SCiB lithium-ion battery can take some serious abuse and charge at speeds that sound like pure science fiction. Using an anode material made from titanium niobium oxide, Toshiba claims its cells can offer double the lithium storage capacity over modern lithium-ion batteries.
The prototype version of these 50 amp-hour cells can be recharged in as little as six minutes. On Japan’s new JC08 test cycle, Toshiba claims a 32-kWh EV battery can provide triple the range when compared with a typical lithium-ion battery running on that same six-minute charge cycle.
But charge time is only part of the battery. Anyone who’s plugged in an old phone one too many times knows that charge cycles and hardiness also factor into what makes a good battery. To this end, Toshiba claims its SCiB prototype will retain 90 percent of its capacity after 5,000 charge-discharge cycles — if you’re charging once a day, that’s almost 14 years’ worth of cycles. It can also charge rapidly in temperatures as low as 14 degrees Fahrenheit, although charge time extends from six minutes to 10.
Toshiba is far from the first company to claim a big breakthrough that could bring many more potential buyers into the EV fold. While Toshiba notes that it plans to commercialize this battery in the 2019 fiscal year, there are many questions left unanswered. The biggest one is cost — Toshiba made no mention of the new SCiB’s cost per kWh, which InsideEVs notes is one of the major hurdles an automaker must clear before it dives into new battery tech.
After all, you can’t get large swaths of the public excited about a six-minute charge time if it’s connected to a small EV that costs $75,000. But if Toshiba is able to produce these cells at a decent cost, and they live up to the initial testing hype, hesitant buyers could put more thought into the idea of buying an electric car.
(Hat tip to InsideEVs!)