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.
In running into fixed objects, I think you're right. Mass alone doesn't help. But in collisions with other vehicles, conservation of momentum favors the heavier vehicle, simply on the relative delta-velocities experienced by the two. If you end up in the middle of the crumple zone, it won't help you, but mass does have a beneficial effect independent of stuctural design. Extreme example: a one inch rock and a ping pong ball collide. Both objects may survive with minimal damage, but I'd rather my brain experience the accelerations of the rock than those of the ping pong ball.
Now about your other comment about why unsubsidized EV's don't sell? I agree with you there. Liquid transportation fuels provide energy density and 're-charging' convenience thus far unmatched by plug-only EV's.
I'd like to save money. I get 24 MPG in my vans and run them to around 240,000 miles. I would have to have them for longer trips even if I owned an EV. The way I look at it, the $40,000 for an EV would buy a lot of gas. Factor in the extra insurance and plates and you could have bought even more gas. A hybrid would be better if it had the needed cargo room. I could get by with one vehicle. Sadly, 240,000 miles comes out to a lot of batteries. Even recharging it for free, It would be hard to come out money ahead. This is not to say that there won't be some fantistic discovery in the world of batteries down the road. Look how far LEDs have come from indicator lights to lighting warehouses. Or maybe it will be a super capacitor or solar panels to power the electrolisis that will harvest hydrogen from water so we will have hydrogen for fuel cells.
We don't understand our taxing situations in Indiana either. Where did wheel tax come from? As if the plates didn't cost enough already. And if you put up a tent for an event in Elkhart, you pay tent tax. From my lips to God's ears.
I'm not down on EVs, I've built two but not for long trips. Regards, Pete O.
o 52 mph - 2003 Prius with +90k miles (total approaching 150k)
o 52 mph - 2010 Prius with +26k miles
The trick is to maximize EV or coast in free-wheel operation until the engine reaches an efficient, thermodynamic temperature range. Then drive the Prius as you would any other car.
Traction batteries have their use but it is best applied to provide power until the engine reaches peak, thermodynamic efficiency . . . and then give the engine a break when it can't be efficient. Meet me at the gas pump if you have a different point of view. <grins>
WOW! So, y'all mean that when the CHEVY VOLT grows to the physical size of a 1959 CADILLAC SEDAN de VILLE BROUGHAM, we'll have enuf energy storage that we'll be able to go to the local grocery store & back w/ the A/C & radio turned on, on a single charge? I can't wait!!!!! In the mean time, I'll stick w/ my trusty, ALWAYS reliable, TOYOTA, which consistently gets 35 mpg, and I can park in my garage!!!!
At last, a company is showing some sense with incorporating their batteries. TESLA seems to be using the batteries to replace the floor structure so it is the battery weight minus the floor weight (picture 16). This location makes sense since it gives a low centre of gravity, it is in an area that is acceptable to be flat and simple, and is air cooled from below with the option of cooling through the structure. (see citroen 2CV chassis and lightweight body concept designed before WW2 and produced in 1948) It can also provides underfloor heating for the cooler countries. Now all the car needs is a light aluminium or composite body strong enough to resist a roll etc. Next step is the bulkheads to be made into batteries. Eventually body panels would be the batteries. Replace your old batteries and upgrade the car design, colour and possibly battery design at the same time. I thought this was common sense over a decade ago so it is good to see it beginning to become reality. May the technology evolve. Exciting - isn't it?
deux chevaux Appreciated your humor and mention of the fasinating Citroen 2CV chassis and lightweight body concept designed. Good NEW design is refreshing and should be rewarded as it was a short time ago when Tesla's JB Straubel received the Engineer of The Year Award.
The following is from the TESLA site bio on JB; thought you guys would like to read it.
"As Chief Technical Officer The story of JB's career started at a junkyard in Wisconsin, where, at the age of 14, he discovered a discarded electric golf cart and decided to rebuild it. Thus began a lifelong fascination with energy work and electric vehicles.
As a co-founder of Tesla, JB has overseen the technical and engineering design of the vehicles, focusing on the battery, motor, power electronics, and high-level software sub-systems. Additionally, he evaluates new technology, manages vehicle systems testing, and handles technical interface with key vendors.
Prior to Tesla, JB was the CTO and co-founder of the aerospace firm, Volacom, which designed a specialized high-altitude electric aircraft platform using a novel power plant. At Volacom, JB invented and patented a new long-endurance hybrid electric propulsion concept that was later licensed to Boeing. Before Volacom, JB worked at Rosen Motors as a propulsion engineer developing a new hybrid electric vehicle drivetrain based on a micro turbine and a high-speed flywheel. JB was also part of the early team at Pentadyne, where he designed and built a first-generation 150kW power inverter, motor-generatorcontrols, and magnetic bearing systems.
Armed with a bachelor's in energy systems engineering and an master's in energy engineering from Stanford University, JB left the cold winters of Wisconsin for good. He now lives in Menlo Park, Calif., where he continues to indulge his passion for electric transportation: he built an electric Porsche 944 that held a world EV racing record, a custom electric bicycle, and a pioneering hybrid trailer system. JB is also an accomplished pilot.
Hi Charles, I am not aware of anybody doing research on body panels as batteries. I was intrigued about the emerging battery powered cars over a decade ago and as a design engineer and want-to-be 'futurist' I tried to predict how the technology would evolve and design with it. From memory, I first predicted that batteries would become part of a chassis structure where their weight doubles as poor quality structure for efficiency and low centre of gravity. I have now seen this in picture 16. Next other non cosmetic areas like bulkheads would be utilised as batteries. Eventually as battery technology develops they could cosmetically be overmoulded into complicated body shapes. If battery life stays at about seven years then these modular panels can be replaced to a later design of body or battery. If the battery/chassis design remains then you could change your pick-up to a five seater for a growing family. These panels do not need to be batteries, more recent thinking from a few years ago would possibly have them as super capacitors with seperate smart electronic modules to discharge them in a useful way. The panels would be more easily suited to layer lay-ups in a capicator type construction. I consider capicitor technology as not being far away, today, from this application. Batteries or capicitors could possibly be self charging with an invisible solar panel coating. Obviously battery technology needs to progress in the correct path for this application. In an accident we cannot have battery acid that will dissolve occupants or an impacted pedestrian, or heavy metals that will long term poison them. We also cannot have people being shocked or electrocuted. The panels need to be light and structural too. The panels will likely be thicker so lightness is important whereas strength will be easier due to thickness. My wife worked in carbon fibre lay-ups for aircraft. This is a strong method of construction like plywood and is analogous to capacitor lay-ups. Carbon fibre is a potential conductor for the devices and could be possibly grown into a latice shape (in a body panel shape) using nano technology. This would give strength and excellent surface area to a liquid or gel electrolyte. This is a long blog so I will leave it here. Thanks Charles for your interest.
A well-known automotive consultant who did an extensive teardown of BMW’s i3 all-electric car said its design is groundbreaking in multiple ways. “We’ve torn down about 450 cars, and we’ve never analyzed anything like this before.”
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