Electric vehicles [EV] are designed to make the most of their limited battery charge. To that end, EV designers focus on weight reduction, aerodynamics, and efficient electrical systems. Still, the lithium-ion [Li-ion] battery packs in today’s EVs are a major part of the weight that needs to be hauled around, whether fully charged or not.
Additionally, EV battery packs are typically designed larger than they have to be to increase the lifespan following the 80/20 cycle rule. The resulting weight reduces the effective range of the EV.
The European Battery Consortium SmartBatt believes the right way to increase range is to make the EV battery packs lighter. At the moment, the only way to make a Li-ion battery pack lighter is to make it smaller, which results in reduced capacity and reduced range.
Advanced battery companies have been working on developing the next-generation battery, which would hopefully increase energy denisity, much like Li-ion did to nickel-metal hydride [NiMH] batteries, and NiMH did to nickel-cadmium [NiCad].
Is it possible to reduce Li-ion battery weight without reducing capacity? SmartBatt is dedicating a team of engineers to work on the very thing. Their first project is a 20kWh battery that can deliver a continuous 36kW power. At the same time, the EV battery pack will be lighter by 15%. In the case of, say, a Nissan Leaf Li-ion battery pack, this could theoretically reduce the weight by 100 pounds and increase the range by 15 miles.