As we continue to see a proliferation of wireless connected devices make their way into the mainstream consumer electronics market, there has been growing attention on a key issue that will be central to making all these devices work: efficient power supplies, and specifically practical battery systems. Today, one of the startups that’s hoping to lead the conversation on how this will develop has raised a significant round of funding as it inches closer to a commercial launch.
StoreDot, a startup out of Israel that is developing a new kind of quick-charging (five minutes or less) battery to replace the lithium-ion components largely in use today in phones, electric cars and other un-wired devices, has raised $60 million in funding led by carmaker Daimler with participation also from Samsung Ventures and Norma Investments, an investment firm linked to the Russian tycoon Roman Abramovich. Daimler and Samsung have been prolific investors in autonomous car and other transportation-related startups (Samsung just earlier today signalled a new fund for this purpose; Daimler announced a round in Via just last week.)
Anyone who wants to see personal electric transport advance eventually begins to think about two things: materials and batteries.
Materials: What are the strongest yet lightest materials an eScooter and eSkateboard can be made from? How can the motor be made lighter, more efficient, and more powerful? What is the optimal design and diameter for wheels that provides the best grip, smoothest ride, and the least weight and maintenance? Until eScooters are surprisingly light — like the original MacBook Air — the market will be limited.
Batteries: Any eScooter that requires four hours to recharge doesn’t belong in the marketplace. That’s an upside-down equation: It’s taking longer to fill the battery than it does to drain the battery when traveling in a single trip to its maximum range. In addition, why are LG 18650 batteries cylindrical? Why only that shape? And how can their weight be reduced while also providing more energy output? And how to get them to charge faster with true balancing?
These are all questions I have to research. Plus: Does graphene play any role here? Both for materials and batteries? And what about supercapacitors replacing batteries? What other companies are working on power technology — and are they even aware of the personal electric transport market that’s going to greatly grow?
On that last point, I’ve sent an email to StoreDot in case they’re not aware of the personal electric transport market that comprises eScooters and eSkateboards. It’s something easy to miss between the markets for electronics (phones, computers, etc.) and traditionally-sized transport (cars, trucks, etc.)
With Xiaomi and Ninebot/Segway entering the eScooter market — trusted brand names, with Segway being known globally — the entire eScooter market is on the cusp of changing. It shouldn’t be overlooked as a market opportunity for new battery and charging technologies.