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Captain Hybrid
Slideshow: Electric Car Batteries Get Bigger
2/10/2012

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Nissan Leaf's Battery Pack
The Nissan Leaf's 480-lb battery pack is made up of 48 stackable lithium-ion modules.   (Source: Nissan)
The Nissan Leaf’s 480-lb battery pack is made up of 48 stackable lithium-ion modules.
(Source: Nissan)

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Beth Stackpole
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Smaller, not bigger
Beth Stackpole   2/10/2012 10:19:58 AM
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Very interesting slide show, Chuck. I loved seeing the different range of designs and options each of these EV players is bringing to the table. What strikes me, though, is that instead of making the battery packs larger to accomodate more on-board energy, shouldn't the innovation muscle be directed towards figuring out how to pack more power in a smaller space? There needs to be a page taken from the semiconductor space.

TJ McDermott
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Re: Smaller, not bigger
TJ McDermott   2/10/2012 11:39:28 AM
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One would expect a simple graph to show the point of diminishing returns of vehicle range vs. battery size as a function of weight (beyond that weight, increasing the battery actually reduces range).

Beth Stackpole
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Re: Smaller, not bigger
Beth Stackpole   2/10/2012 12:29:53 PM
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Well said and put in engineer terms. That was what I was alluding to. These giant batteries (ones weighing upwards of 1,500 lb--that's almost a ton) have to degrade range performance in the end. For more on-board energy, they need denser, more powerful battery packs--not physically bigger ones.

Alexander Wolfe
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Safety First
Alexander Wolfe   2/10/2012 3:21:40 PM
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I was talking to a vendor involved in circuit protection the other day, and I didn't realize what a global safety issue there is involving LiIon battery technology. From the spate of Chevy Volt fire stories a few months back, one could have been led to believe that GM was at fault. In reality, Lithium Ion is an inherently risky technology, insofar as fire hazard when cells rupture, overheat or overcharge.

Jerry dycus
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Re: Safety First
Jerry dycus   2/10/2012 3:55:33 PM
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 You mean like gasoline!!!!!

Jerry dycus
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Re: Smaller, not bigger
Jerry dycus   2/10/2012 4:03:17 PM
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 Better would by far make smaller, actually cost effective EV's.  This ramping in size shows big auto isn't really interested in making useful, cost effective EV's.

After 100 mile range it's really hard to justify any more when an under 100lb gasoline generator gives unlimited range at much less cost.  And no the Volt isn't it as too heavy, too big motor/gen.

The GM UltraLite showcar is really what most need done in medium tech composites.  Just 10 kwhr of battery would get it 100 mile range and the rear drive can be swapped out for an ICE for long trips.

Charles Murray
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Re: Smaller, not bigger
Charles Murray   2/10/2012 5:59:38 PM
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Generally speaking, the big problem with large batteries is that they horribly inefficient on short trips or when they are depleted. If you are driving an 800-lb depleted battery around, you're carrying dead weight. Same with a short trip to the store: Even if the battery is fully charged, why would you need an 800-lb battery to get a cup of coffee from your local Starbuck's? 

Alexander Wolfe
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Re: Smaller, not bigger
Alexander Wolfe   2/11/2012 12:32:16 PM
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I think the Mitsubishi MiEV comes closest on that score (weight-wise), among the current crop of EVs. However, it's not cheap. The Mitsubishi cars web site lists it as "starting" at $21.6K and that's AFTER tax rebates/incentives. So on the cost curve versus gas cars, I don't see how it's cost effective. Electric cars won't take off until the same thing happens for driver as it did for factory, residential, and business owners. Namely, when energy becomes too expense, and you can reap real savings by going green, then people do it in droves. It's "follow the money," as opposed to the tree-hugger effect, which is really just early adopters. Now that gas is hitting $4/gal again, we'll see interest, but mainly in hybrids, which are now essentially mainstream. Plug ins still have a long way to go (economically speaking and I guess range-wise too :)

Jerry dycus
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Re: Smaller, not bigger
Jerry dycus   2/11/2012 8:20:37 PM
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        The current EV's being built are not economy cars but advanced tech, statment cars so should be judged by comparing them to BMW's, Lotus, etc, not with a Honda Fit.  In that class they are rather inexpensive.

       Big auto doesn't want to build cheap ones because they make less and EV's last so long, cutting both replacement and ICE repair parts profits, a major money maker for them.

       I agree with Charles a too big battery which I define as over 100 mile range as wasteful.  But so is any 1 person in any 3k-4klb cars, EV or ICE.

        90% of US trips can be done with an 80 mile range 2 seat EV!  And safe, cost effective ones can be done in under 1,000 lbs if they can break from steel bodies/chassis  and finally go composite.

Tcrook
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Re: Smaller, not bigger
Tcrook   2/13/2012 9:44:51 AM
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I agree with the 'smaller, not bigger' approach but 90% of trip needs is a non-starter for most buyers.

A second more efficient car is practical to buy for a lot of consumers but the overhead of owning is not.  If the Fed. government wanted to help (without these stupid subsidies) it would mandate that insurance companies and states not insure and license cars but drivers.  I can't drive two (or more) cars any further than I can one.

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