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Volvo Cars CEO strikes cautious tone on solid-state battery technology


Volvo’s EX90 electric vehicle photographed in Sweden on Nov.9, 2022.

Mikael Sjoberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The CEO of Volvo Cars is bullish about the long-term potential of electric motors, but appears more cautious on solid-state batteries — technology that’s generated much hype around its potential to transform the performance of EVs.

Speaking to CNBC’s Squawk Box Europe on Thursday morning, Jim Rowan said electric motors were seeing “massive improvements.”

However, on solid-state batteries he said: “My personal opinion is that solid-state is still some years off, but of course we’re involved in the research and development around that.”

“But I think there’s many more incremental benefits that we’re going to see with the current electrical propulsion systems, that [are] … just going to continue to drive performance,” Rowan added.

Read more about electric vehicles, batteries and chips from CNBC Pro

The U.S. Department of Energy has described solid-state lithium batteries as providing “an energy-dense and safer alternative to lithium-ion batteries currently used for electric vehicles (EV) and other portable devices.”

Some of the possible advantages of solid-state batteries in EVs include fast charging times and longer driving ranges, but concerns about cost and mass manufacturing persist.

This year, Japanese automotive giant Toyota said it had “made a breakthrough in its quest to improve the durability of this technology.”

The firm added that it was now focusing on “bringing solid-state batteries into mass production. The aim is for the batteries to be ready for commercial use by 2027/28.”

While it had originally envisaged using the batteries in hybrid electric vehicles, Toyota said its “primary focus” was now centered around using them in next-generation battery electric vehicles.

Volvo Cars says it wants to be a “fully electric car company” by the year 2030 and Rowan struck an optimistic tone on the company’s EV future as it reported third-quarter results Thursday.

However, shares dropped as much as 12% as investors worried about the outlook for the market, with the Mercedes-Benz CFO bemoaning “brutal” EV pricing.



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