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Could Less Energy Storage Benefit Electric Vehicles?

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This section is dedicated to concepts involving minimizing the amount of batteries used in electric vehicles, in order to lower both their initial and operational cost.

Opel Ampera and Wind Turbine. The Ampera is an EREV built on the Chevy Volt platform. – Image obtained with thanks from opelblog on Flickr.

 

The battery bank (battery pack) of an electric vehicle can account for 40% of the cost of the entire vehicle. This means that even minor battery cost reductions can be helpful. Reducing the cost of a $12,000 USD battery pack by only 10% would save $1,200 USD.

The range anxiety issue that electric vehicles have is exacerbated, and is an issue primarily because of the fact that their batteries take hours to charge. Charge time can range from 45 minutes and 16 hours for vehicles on the market. Even 45 minutes is too long a wait if you need to get somewhere quickly. It is alright if you are dining at a restaurant, or watching a movie while it is charging, though.

New prototype battery technology can charge in under 20 seconds, and, provided that this new technology does not come with a catch, this opens up a window for a potentially cheaper electric vehicle charging scheme.

Why?

First, if an electric vehicle can charge in under 20 seconds, then you can stop at any time to recharge it without cancelling your plans.

My idea: If charging stations were deployed 10 miles apart (which is pretty far, they could be 5 miles apart as well), people could get by most of the time with smaller battery packs that provide a shorter driving range.

Cutting the size of the battery pack from a larger one that provides 80 miles of range to a small one that provides 20 miles of range could reduce the cost of the vehicle drastically. If the size of a 24 kWh $12,000 USD battery was reduced to a 1/4 of what it would normally be, it would cost only $3,000. $9,000 less.

This is one of the largest cost reductions for electric vehicles I can think of. Imagine cutting the Nissan Leaf price by $9,000 USD. $9,000 USD is a little cheaper than the cheapest new car I was able to find. The Nissan Leaf battery pack is 24 kWh, by the way.

Even if the 20 second battery was twice as expensive traditional lithium-ion batteries, it would still cost only $6,000, which is half of the original $12,000 mentioned. When I said “only”, I meant that it is low compared to traditional batteries, but it is still a large sum of money.

Last but not least. Think about this concept and try to either expound on or improve it.

Battery options on the market (this list will expand as I find more):

  1. Lithium-Titanate (Toshiba Super-Charge  SCiB) – This can charge to 90% of its capacity in less than 10 minutes. It is used in the Honda Fit EV and the Mitsubishi i-Miev EV.

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