Full Video + Recap of Rho Motion's 2021 EV Battery Seminar

July 23, 2021

Rho Motion’s Summer Seminar Series is one of the premier events of the summer for electric vehicle industry analysts and technology companies.

Host Jon Regnart, Automotive Trend Strategist at the Automotive Propulsion Centre UK, set the stage by discussing three battery solutions announced by global automakers: (1) entry level low cost solutions leveraging LFP and other low-cost chemistries, (2) high volume performance solutions using NCA or NMC cathodes and Gr-Si blend anodes, and (3) high performance, specialist applications using ultra high nickel cathodes and looking towards silicon anodes and next-gen technology such as Lithium metal and solid state batteries. In addition to cell chemistry and cost, Jon pointed out that the industry is ripe for innovation across the value chain, including manufacturing improvements, cell safety, supply chain vulnerability, and recycling.

Each speaker gave superb insight into the state of the industry and what’s next for EV Battery technology. There was an interesting contrast presented between EnPower’s commercialization plans to meet today’s market demand with advanced Lithium-ion technology and Platinum Metal Group’s focus on developing “beyond Lithium-ion” technologies. Isobel seemed to balance the scales at the end of the session, stating that, “Investing early on in these long-term technologies is really important, but we can’t forget the medium term. To meet demand, we have to build capacity, and as a result, Lithium-ion and advanced Lithium-ion is going to be here for a very long time.”

EnPower had the opportunity to present in the same conference last year, but this time around the company had a big announcement – a pivot from licensing to a product business! Why expand now? Annette’s presentation noted three key market trends that have developed over the last year. First, supply chain security has emerged as a key concern for both the U.S. and Europe. However, Annette emphasized that building capacity alone will not result in industry leadership. “What we (the U.S. and Europe) thrive in is developing centers of excellence that focus on advanced technology and IP-rich solutions,” said Annette.

Second, “There is an access to funds that battery companies haven’t seen in the last 20 years,” said Annette, who is a former battery investor herself. Investors from private and public markets as well as government funding devoted to EV technologies and infrastructure are providing the much-needed capital to enable near-term technologies to reach sufficient scale and to accelerate technology development for solutions coming down the pipeline.

Third, meeting the window of opportunity is critical for battery startups to succeed. EnPower’s key advantage is the market readiness of the technology, built on the mantra: No novel materials, no novel equipment. “In solving the energy-power tradeoff, we can unlock performance without reinventing the wheel,” said Annette.

On the other end of the spectrum, Michael Jones and Dr. Bilal El-Zahab partnered to present recent work from Platinum Group Metals, which focuses on leveraging palladium, platinum, rhodium, and gold (PGMs) to unlock performance of next-generation technologies like Lithium Sulfur and Lithium Air batteries. PGMs are already being used in the automotive industry as a powerful catalyst for internal combustion engines, so Michael postulated, “If PGMs play such an important role in internal combustion engines, why couldn’t they play an important role in improving a chemical reaction in a battery?” Platinum Group Metals has created a division called Lion Battery Technologies to commercialize PGMs in the battery industry. While much of the work has focused on “beyond Li-ion” technologies, the team believes that PGMs could be used in custom electrolytes for today’s Li-ion batteries to enhance performance. Though the work is early, Michael emphasized, “It’s new and very exciting.”

The last speaker, Isobel Sheldon, brought a European perspective to the conversation from her decades of experience in the automotive industry and current strategic role at Britishvolt. According to Isobel, “The European EV market is now the largest EV market in the world, yet we’re facing two market failures: capacity and technology.” Isobel believes that custom developed cells are the path forward, as automakers will seek to protect their brand attributes and will choose to differentiate at the cell level. “If you use a one size fits all strategy, you start to question the brand value that you’re buying in to,” said Isobel. “Customization and tailoring is where the industry is going in the future to protect brand values.”

As for her perspective on the generations of technology, Isobel discussed needs at both ends of the spectrum. “Low-cost technologies will start to come to the forefront for vehicles that need only 150-200 miles of range, which will improve the accessibility of electric vehicles,” said Isobel. “On the opposite end of the spectrum, we’ve really got to focus on “over-the-horizon” technologies to meet our future needs, but they are going to take some time. You have to walk into those technologies with your eyes wide open, understanding that there are technical challenges to be overcome. The amount of effort required to take them from lab scale through to production scale is quite significant.”

As always, Rho Motion lined up an excellent array of thought leaders for this session, as well as the remainder of their Summer Seminar Series. At EnPower, we are always excited to share the stage with other innovators who are tackling today’s electrification challenges. If you are interested in learning more about our unique perspective on the industry and our commercialization plans to meet today’s window of opportunity, contact us. Thank you to Rho Motion for hosting EnPower amongst the Summer Seminar Series lineup!

“What we (the U.S. and Europe) thrive in is developing centers of excellence that focus on advanced technology and IP-rich solutions.”


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