Batteries are boring

Nick Schoeps

January 4, 2023

Batteries SHOULD be boring. The Chevy Bolt has exciting batteries right now - nobody wants that. I went to The Battery Show in Novi, MI for the third time in 5 years and it was more boring than ever - which is GREAT! It’s boring even for someone who likes batteries (this guy right here - guilty nerd).

Four years ago there were maybe a dozen companies selling complete battery solutions. This was great for prototyping firms (like my own upspun design). Plug-and-play battery solutions allow me to focus on the vehicle integration challenges without reinventing battery design for every project. A lot has happened in the last four years. Automobiles have been combustion powered for over 100 years. Auto manufacturers globally generate 2 trillion dollars in value and in the US employ about 4.5% of the workforce. It is a gargantuan industry — a huge ship — and it does not turn quickly. But it’s happening, and with more force than I ever expected.

Volvo was one of the first to announce the move to 100% electric - and they plan to be there by 2030. If you’re an automaker you have to own your future — and the battery is the single most critical component on any EV (Chevy learned that the hard way). Every major brand is investing in battery production. As a result, the battery show has shifted from a priority on supplied modules to a focus on battery components and materials. There are rows upon rows of thermal compounds, non-conductive adhesives, interconnect vendors and testing equipment. Seriously boring. There’s nothing to be sad about here — the direction of the Battery Show is a sign of maturity. We’re not niche EV weirdos anymore . . . OK, I take that back, we are — but the rest of the world is compelled to join our dork party.

Like it or not, electric transportation is one of the best tools we have for combating climate change. The fact that one of humankind’s largest industries is making this move will reduce the costs of all EV components in the long run.Electric propulsion is an amazing experience no matter the vehicle. The momentum is with us and economies of scale will bring down the cost of electrification for all sectors of the economy — including marine. Rejoice in boring, it’s a sign that the world is turning to follow our lead.