To boost the range of pure electric vehicles (EVs), automakers need more onboard energy. To get more energy, they need bigger battery packs.
That's why manufacturers such as Tesla Motors and BYD Automobile are rolling out vehicles with massive EV battery packs. Tesla's Model S offers a choice of three packs -- 40kWh, 60kWh, and 85kWh. The smaller packs have approximately 5,000 cells in them, while the bigger packs incorporate 8,000 cells, and weigh up to 1,200 pounds. Similarly, BYD's highly anticipated e6 will use a 1,400lb, 71kWh battery.
Not all automakers are building such massive packs. Nissan's Leaf uses a 24kWh model, while the Chevy Volt employs a 16kWh battery, and the Toyota Prius PHV (a plug-in hybrid) incorporates a 5.2-kWh unit. We've collected photos of a wide range of EV battery packs, ranging from production to research devices.
Click on the photo below to scroll through our EV battery slideshow:
The electric DeLorean's battery bay houses the vehicle's electric motor and half of its battery pack. (Source: DeLorean Motor Co.)
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For a close-up look at GM's Chevy Volt, go to the Drive for Innovation site and follow the cross-country journey of EE Life editorial director, Brian Fuller. In the trip sponsored by Avnet Express, Fuller is taking the fire-engine-red Volt to innovation hubs across America, interviewing engineers, entrepreneurs, innovators, and students as he blogs his way across the country.
Will we soon see the day when all-electrics must be based on a truck chassis to carry the weight? (Anybody remember the Briggs and Stratton company's electric attempt?) It seems we are fast approaching that point, if we haven't reached it already. This easy fix of "more is better" gives me an uneasy feeling, as it appears to have done with many of the posters here. Shows how far we have yet to go before the EV is ready for prime time with the vast majority of car owners.
EV's will really take off when they become "drive-by-wire" where they will get their energy (and driving instructions) from the wires buried in the road (similar in concept to the streetcar or subway trains). Then there won't be any extra weight and there will be unlimited power to draw from. People won't develop anxiety when they need to travel farther than 100 miles.
Until then, it looks like hybrids and ICE will dominate with EV's being just a small percentage. The only other thing which may save EV's will be to standardize the battery packs (dimensions and connectors) so "Filling Stations" can be built where the entire battery pack is swapped out. Imagine gasoline cars if every different brand had their own unique way for delivering gasoline into the tank. Remeber the switch from leaded gas to unleaded? Doubtful that barcoding would have succeeded if every product required different equipment for scanning at the checkout. Or if every different railroad line had their own specs for track design (width). In a more simplified world, VHS vs Beta and DVD's vs (Pioneer) Laser disks didn't break out until the players got together and agreed on standards. Of course they were helped along by the porno industry which became the unifying force.
Until there is similar unified force for battery packs among the different car companies (Porno for battery packs?), EV's will continue to be a niche player. However I could be wrong.
Pass me my "Romancing The Bone" DVD. Turn it up, here comes my favorite part.
While it would be nice to have a vehicle to match intermittent needs, could people justify multiple cars ? My 2009 Aspen Hybrid is excessive for my everyday use - 5.7 Hemi, 6,000 towing capacity, 8 passenger, all-wheel drive. Even my wife's Prius is excessive for her everyday use - 1.8 (Sterling cycle ?), 4 passenger. But neither of us could justify having something like the original Honda Insight for everyday - 2 passenger, high mileage - and then a third and fourth car for 'special' days. And there is always the what-if ; what if I take the 2-passenger but then need additional passenger or cargo capacity later the same day ? We both accept that our cars are not ideal, but we each are willing to accept the trade-offs of our hybrids.
A small (10 - 20 HP) ICE w/ generator as a range extender/recharger makes SO much sense. It's light, allows use of smaller battery, would give unlimited range at in-town speeds, allow recharging while parked when trip is over 50% of battery range and totally eliminates 'range anxiety'.
BMW useded this in one of their recent prototypes. I thought it was brilliant.
It almost sounds like we're relearning how and why the internal combustion became dominant, doesn't it? It would be nice if you could just carry the amount of energy you need, and/or pick up more along the way in a quick and efficient manner. Gasoline is not going to carry us in the long term, and battery power (and everything else) brings challenges of its own.
Just to add the point that weight in an electric car is not as negative a factor compared to non-electrics, due to regenerative braking, in fact if the regenerative braking was 100% efficient (that is if all kinetic energy was recovered back into the battery when braking) there would almost be no penalty with the added weight, plus the added stabily if the batteries can be located low and toward the center of the car, and the fact that cars with higher mass are safer in collisions, with all other things held constant. In the real world with say 75% efficent energy recovery, adding 20% to the cars weight (in batteries) would increase energy comsumption in stop and go (or uphill and downhill) driving by 5% maximum. In constant speed driving the only decrease in efficiency may be due to slight increase in rolling resistance due to the added weight.
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.
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.
A recently released government report has raised the hopes of automakers looking for a break on future fuel economy regulations, despite the warnings of an Environmental Protection Agency official who said the agency is unlikely to back down on its goal of 54.5 mpg by 2025.
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