Ola Electric is working on building solid-state batteries, expecting its vehicles to use these batteries by next year, Reuters reported, quoting Bhavish Aggarwal, the founder and chairman of Ola Electric.

Bhavish Aggarwal, Ola Electric CEO, with the S1 Pro electric scooter. (AFP)

Ola’s S1 electric scooter is among India’s most sold electric scooters, and Aggarwal expects commercial production to begin at its cell ‘gigafactory’ in Tamil Nadu by early next year, the report read.

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The factory was selected for the government’s battery manufacturing incentive scheme.

Why is Ola Electric working to build solid-state batteries?

Solid-state batteries offer improved safety, a longer lifespan and faster charging compared to the conventional lithium-ion batteries that use flammable liquid electrolytes which can pose a safety hazard, especially in the case of accidents.

However, mass adoption of solid-state batteries is difficult due to raw material availability, complicated manufacturing processes and high costs.

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The world’s largest automaker, Toyota Motor of Japan, is a big proponent of solid-state batteries and plans to launch them globally in the next few years.

How does Ola plan to build solid-state batteries?

Ola does not currently commercially produce its own cells, but sources them from South Korea’s LG Energy Solution and China’s Contemporary Amperex Technology.

However, Ola Electric has begun making the more efficient 4680 battery cells for testing purposes.

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These cells are known to be more efficient than their widely used 2170 counterparts, but many, including Tesla, have struggled to scale up production.

How is the government supporting electric vehicles?

Ola’s 4680 cells have received a key domestic certification, Aggarwal said. The company will have an initial capacity to annually produce about 1.5 gigawatt hours (GWh) worth cells, for which it has invested $100 million, he added.

Aggarwal also said that Ola Electric is okay with government tapering off FAME (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid &) Electric Vehicles in India) subsidies in order to focus on the PLI (Production Linked Incentive) schemes, the Economic Times wrote.

The government is expected to announce details of FAME III during the budget session late in July. This is expected to support two, three, and four-wheeled EVs with a 10,000 crore budget allocation, the Economic Times reported, citing people familiar with the matter.