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Sandy Munro talks Battery Battles and calls Solid State is the “Kiss of Death” for Gas and Diesel at WCX

Posted: April 21, 2023

Sandy Munro knows how to command a room—with a killer opening line.

“The next ten to fifteen years is going to be the most exciting the transportation industry has ever had,” he said to a captivated audience of engineers on Wednesday at SAE International’s WCX before launching into a spirited discussion of the competition in today’s vehicle battery market.

Munro likened the pace of technological evolution in mobility now to that of the industry’s beginnings. In 13 years, he detailed, a rapid transformation changed the landscape of personal travel forever, as the first automotives came on the market and drove out previous methods of travel, like horse and buggy. Munro proposes that it will take the same amount of time for electric vehicles (EVs) to overcome the internal combustion engine (ICE), citing that not only is the technology greener, but also fueling becomes significantly more cost effective.

“I’m a big fan of ‘let’s save the environment,’ but I’m a bigger fan of ‘let’s save a few bucks,’” he joked.

Munro predicts that 2028 will be the end of the so-called ICE age as the era of the EV takes over, and as such, industry needs to be prepared to embrace new ideas, and be thinking about them yesterday.

“We need to think ahead, away from the norm,” he said. “We have to have some way of finding where those new ways are to be a viable competitor.”

Munro brought up current examples of battery technology that his company Munro & Associates have analyzed. He highlighted the sodium-ion batter from China’s JAC Group as opposed to the harder-to-obtain lithium batteries currently more prevalent on the market. Best in class, according to Munro, is the Tesla 4680 Battery, which he described as closest to solid state.

“We need more power, we need lighter weight, and we need something with more life span than we have right now,” he said.

Munro further backed solid state batteries for their faster charging capabilities, increased density and range, lighter weight, and use of less toxic materials. It’s where he’s putting his weight for the most seamless shift into EV adoption.

“Solid state is the kiss of death for gasoline and diesel,” he said.

Other industry call-outs from Munro included CATL’s newly announced condensed matter batter with an energy of density of 500Wh/kg—enough to power an aircraft, the Sakuu 3-D printing production process, and the lightweight aerospace battery from Solid Energy Solutions (SES) made from a perforated titanium substrate.

“At the end of the day, there’s a lot going on,” Munro said. “It’s really exciting times.”