The Car is the Battery

The shift of electric drive trains is opening up entirely new technological pathways to explore from better batteries to micro-micro-turbines.

Published: 15-Sep-2009

Plug in hybrid electric cars are now prioritised by most major car manufacturers. Pure electric on-road cars are prioritised by Nissan and a host of vibrant start up companies. They have one thing in common. The cleverest, most expensive part of their planned vehicles is increasingly the traction battery and it increasingly employs thin film and nanotechnology to enhance performance.

As these new traction batteries make the cars more and more capable, their share of the price of the car is set to become even more dominant. Actual percentages are hostage to commercial practice rather than costs while most of the battery suppliers and car manufacturers sell at a loss at present. However, in the new report Car Traction Batteries - The New Gold Rush 2010-2020 , analysts IDTechEx estimate that, over the next ten years, the battery cost paid by the car manufacturer may rise from about 27% to about 57% of the average ex factory price of hybrids and pure electric cars combined.

Factors driving this include the need for lithium battery makers to make a profit at some stage and the strident demand for better car range and battery life. Batteries are planned with built in supercapacitors and some will be supercabatteries, otherwise known as ultracapacitors or bacitors.


New Honda Insight sedan pictured with FCX Clarity and future hybrid sports car

Lithium-ion powered cars would not satisfy most consumers, since such batteries are costly and still hold less than half the energy of gasoline by weight, asserts Masaaki Kato, president of Honda Motor Co.'s research unit.

Compact Power CEO Prabhakar Patil

Prabhakar Patil foresees Compact Power generating up to $1 billion in sales in the next 10 years.

Voltphreaks VP400 lithium ion starter battery is fraction the size of conventional lead acid battery

Designed to replace standard 12V lead-acid starter batteries, the Voltphreaks batteries weigh up to 80% less while providing the more cranking power.


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