Future Electric Car Battery Technology - What's Coming in the Future?
Electric vehicles have a reputation for being environmentally friendly since these emit few direct emissions as compared to traditional vehicles that are powered by internal combustion engines. The Toyota Prius and the Tesla Roadster are some of the electric vehicle models in the market today while General Motors is still developing the Chevrolet Volt as its electric vehicle offering.
One hindrance to the massive public acceptance of electric vehicles is its limited range due to the low energy density of the batteries that are used in these vehicles. There are efforts to create the next generation of batteries to power these vehicles. These include Firefly Energy's development of a new generation of lead-acid batteries. The company has replaced the lead plates on traditional batteries with lead-impregnated foam made with carbon graphite. This enhances the surface area of lead inside the battery which enables it to deliver more power and reduce its recharge time.
General Motors, on the other hand, will use lithium-ion battery packs when they roll out the Chevrolet Volt sometime in 2010. Lithium-ion batteries store three to four times more energy per unit mass than traditional batteries. However, current iterations of this technology can overheat since these are intrinsically unstable in their charged state. Furthermore, there can be an explosion or a fire when there's a defect or if it gets damaged. A123Systems is another company that's developing battery technology for electric vehicles. The company changed iron for the cobalt used in lithium-ion batteries thereby creating a battery that can be recharged more often and is more chemically stable.
Toyota will also use both lithium-ion battery technology and nickel-metal hydride batteries for its 2010 line-up of hybrid electric vehicles, inluding the Prius. Toyota's battery venture with Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. seeks to produce longer-lasting lithium-ion batteries by 2009.