The electric vehicle market is surging and, with it, the race to exponentially improve electric car battery technology. Further, faster, safer, and lighter is the mantra that reverberates throughout the electric vehicle industry. As demand grows, car manufacturers are diving in to take ownership of an essential component of the electric vehicle.
No longer is the battery a black box that you drop into a car and forget. What's happening inside that box is critical to the EV's performance, cost, and safety. Many manufacturers have come to recognise that the EV battery must be a part of the car's overall development, not brought in as an afterthought.
Automakers like General Motors and Toyota to BMW, Hyundai, and VW are partnering with battery manufacturers, engineers, and scientists to develop safer electric car batteries that have longer life cycles, charge within minutes, and travel hundreds of miles beyond the current average of one hundred to the two-hundred-mile range.
Tesla is one OEM that recognises the extreme importance of investing in battery technology. The all-electric carmaker realises that the EV battery is not a commodity— it is critical to the success of the EV. To power Tesla's goal of 500,000 cars per year, the automaker has built Giga-factories in China, Europe, and, in partnership with Panasonic, in Nevada, where it will make its electric vehicles and batteries all under one roof. Tesla is also building an electric battery cell production line in Fremont, California. At the end of last year, Tesla filed patents on new battery chemistry to provide better, cheaper, and longer-lasting batteries.
Toyota is investing $13.9 billion in its battery business, including research and development into solid-state batteries. Even luxury carmaker Bentley, which might have its first electric vehicle on the road by 2025, is positioning its future investment strategy on EV battery technology. "It's all about electrification," CEO Adrian Hallmark told Automotive News.
In addition to individual car manufacturers, consortiums that include major companies are working on speeding up the process of developing new battery technologies.
Japan's Consortium for Lithium-Ion Battery Technology and Evaluation Center, or LIBTEC, comprises more than 25 companies, including Toyota, Panasonic Corp., and Nissan Motor Co. The consortium is backed by approximately $90 million in government funding to speed up progress in developing solid-state technology.
However, solid-state technology is years away from reality. So current interest lies in improving lithium-ion technology.
Tesla is ahead of the race in developing a viable lithium-ion based EV battery that provides power exceeding gas-powered autos and relieves range anxiety. The company boasts its 2021 Tesla Roadster takes the sports-car to a 620-mile range. The all-electric car also features a top speed of 250 mph, including a 1.9 second 60 mph time. According to Car and Driver, this puts the future electric Tesla Roadster one second above the gas-powered McLaren 570s.
If EV technology can surpass gasoline-powered cars, not just in performance, but also in regards to the environment, it is the only viable path to a more profitable future for the auto industry, and a cleaner world for all.
Integrating EV Battery Technology into the Development Process
EV performance has everything to do with the battery that powers it. It is not a commodity that you buy, install, and forget about like a gas tank for internal combustion engines.
Without a high-performing electric car battery, you do not have a high-performing EV.
You cannot yank out the IC engine, replace it with an electric motor, and choose an EV battery at the last moment. The EV battery is the heart of the electric car. Unlike a battery for a gas-powered vehicle, which serves mainly as a starter, the electric battery powers everything in an EV. Most importantly, the EV battery runs the controller, which successively runs the electric motor. Thus, the battery needs to be long-lasting and powerful. Furthermore, performance specifications between a family sedan, an SUV, and a sports car vary wildly. The electric battery technology must be adapted to suit the needs of how a car is driven.
The pain points that automakers must address involve the critical factors of range, longevity, safety, costs, and charging capabilities.
Several interdependent factors contribute to the overall life and performance of an electric vehicle battery —the speed at which you charge a battery can cause overheating. The design of the battery pack and the cell components can also impede heat dissipation. The lifetime of an electric battery is also dependent on how much you charge/discharge each time—also, by the rate at which the battery discharges. The speed at which you can discharge—and how fast the car can accelerate—similarly depends on battery design.
Because of the interdependency of these various factors and that the performance of an EV depends heavily on the battery itself, car manufacturers must take ownership of EV battery technology, starting at the cell level.
Emerging electric battery technology addresses the limitations of existing engineering. For example, Addionics' smart 3D metal architecture addresses the internal resistance that causes overheating in lithium-ion batteries. Heat dissipation occurs without external cooling methods, which improves safety and contributes to the mechanical longevity of the battery. The patent-protected fabrication method Addionics uses also enhances the performance, mileage, cost, and charging time of the battery: charging time can be reduced by fifty percent, the capacity and / or range can be increased by one-hundred percent. The lifetime of the battery can overall increase by two-hundred percent.
The unique factor of Addionics smart 3D electrode technology is that battery production need not be reinvented. The cell, which is the building block of an EV battery, is compatible with existing battery architecture. A battery can be customised to the needs of the car manufacturer's specification, whether it be a family SUV or a race-car — more energy/load needed, more cells are added or dropped in. Additionally, while most battery manufacturers focus on chemistry to improve battery performance, Addionics focuses on physics, which allows the technology to integrate with any existing battery chemistry.
There is no doubt that the electric vehicle industry is here to stay. The public wants it, government regulations demand it, and the automotive industry is investing heavily in newer and better EV battery technologies. For OEMs to stay relevant in this industry, they have to realise the battery is a critical part of the electric drivetrain and they need battery expertise and competitive battery technology.
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