Porsche And Audi's Battery Supplier Just Invested In This Ultra-Fast Charging Tech

Range anxiety may be gradually ebbing as electric cars get longer lasting batteries, but the length of time it takes to recharge remains one of the big headaches compared to gas engines. Increasingly, though, fast charging technologies are promising to address that hurdle too, and getting the attention of the big EV battery suppliers in the process.

Automakers aren't hanging around when it comes to speeding up charging. The 2019 Audi e-tron will support up to 150 kW chargers when it arrives in the US next year; Porsche's Taycan sports sedan will double that to 300 kW. With its 800V architecture, Porsche says the Taycan will be able to add around 60 miles of range in just four minutes of charging.

Now, Porsche and Audi's battery supplier is putting a bet on another power technology. LG Chem has joined the rank of investors in Enevate, a startup which is developing silicon-dominant Li-ion batteries. Its system is called HD-Energy Technology, and it claims a five minute charge could take a battery to 75-percent of a charge. Give it 15 minutes, and you could be looking at a 90-percent charge.

That's 8x faster than conventional batteries, Enevate says, and more than 5x faster than the current crop of "fast charge" Li-ion packs. Just as important, the company claims four-times the energy density of conventional batteries, too. That could mean more range in a smaller overall package.

Finally, there are improvements in temperature resilience, with Enevate's batteries apparently capable of working in temperatures down to -40 degrees Centigrade. Cold weather conditions are one of the biggest challenges for EVs, with efficiency dropping markedly as the temperature does. Enevate says that its cells also recharge more rapidly under regenerative braking, topping up the power with electricity generated by slowing the car or when going down hills.

It was enough to already gain the attention of several well-known investors, including Samsung Ventures, the electronics behemoth's venture capital arm. Now, high volume battery manufacturer LG Chem is getting in on the action. Enevate isn't saying quite how much it has raised in its most recent funding round, but it's calling out the South Korean firm as a key participant.

For a key battery player like LG Chem, dramatically improving performance across charging times, energy density, and overall flexibility in differing conditions is key to EVs taking off. Enevate certainly isn't the only company promising big advantages, of course, but if it can deliver – at scale – on its claims then it could be another big step forward for electric vehicles.