Batteries Still the Issue in Quest for Electric Cars

The real force driving battery development has been portable electronics and cordless power tools, not vehicles.

Published: 27-Jul-2007

Clever and attractive, the Chevrolet Volt, a design study for a new wrinkle in electric cars, dominated the headlines coming from the Detroit auto show in January. But the introduction was punctuated with an asterisk.

The car that promised a fuel economy equivalent of 150 miles a gallon and a range of 640 miles using its onboard recharging system carried a major caveat: the lithium-ion batteries required to make it a reality are not yet available, and won't be until 2010 at the earliest, industry experts say.

The Volt is not the only car waiting for lithium-ion batteries to be roadworthy. Reports last month in Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun, a Japanese business newspaper, said the next generation of the Toyota Prius would be delayed by six months because the carmaker had decided that lithium-ion batteries were not quite ready.


A new lithium ion starter battery weighs only 2.5kg and is being used by the German Red Motorsport team in a Lotus. Conventional starter batteries for this type of application typically weigh from 15kg to more than 20kg.

Biggest drawback is cost at $2,500USD per kilowatt, about 10% above cost of coal fired plant.

38 kg (88 lbs) micro streamliner reaches 122km/h (75mph) on 192 AA batteries.


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