One of the biggest fears of EV owners is getting stuck in the middle of nowhere with a dead battery. Volkswagen, the makers of Audi, plan to address this by a new all-electric Audi Q8 sports SUV, with 700 km (435 mi.) range on a full charge.
This is easier said than done, after all Tesla’s class leading Model S has a range of 442 km (275 mi). So the ace up the German automaker’s sleeve is a big secret. Or maybe not, after its Chairman, Dr. Martin Winterkorn, hinted at the battery technology that they may use to reach that range.
During the 3rd Science Award for Electrochemistry at Stanford University, Dr. Winterkorn said he was optimistic about the potential of solid-state batteries,
“Increasing the specific energy of lithium-ion cells to as much as 380 Wh/l will reduce driving range drawbacks.
With a higher nickel content, much more will be feasible.
But we also need to intensify basic research into batteries with an even greater specific energy, such as solid-state batteries.
I see great potential in this new technology, possibly boosting the range to as much as 700 kilometers (1,000 Wh/l).”
What this means is that current lithium-ion batteries will just not cut it. At an energy density of 260 Wh/l, the range of the Q8 will only be 190 kilometers (118 miles). The only way of extending the range is by using solid state batteries, or batteries with both solid electrodes and solid electrolytes. In this way, energy density reaches a whopping 1,000 Wh/l, a 300% or so increase in capacity with the same sized battery.
Whether the technology boosts the range by that much or not is something that we won’t see just yet. The Audi Q8 EV is set to be released in 2017 yet.