Toyota Motor Corporation has developed “the world’s first method for observing the behavior of lithium ions in an electrolyte when a battery charges and discharges.” This method actually allows them to see what causes batteries to age. The results have only just been published, but when the idea is commercialized, it could help make EV batteries that can extend the range of an electric vehicle by up to 15%.
To put that in perspective, on a 238-mile-range Chevy Bolt that’s being shipped to dealers now, it will result in a range of 273.7 miles. The current barrier for EV battery range is about 250 miles or so, and that’s primarily been driven by the efforts of Tesla and their battery partner, Panasonic Corporation.
Related Article: 2017 Chevy Bolt EV: Production, Price and Launch Dates Confirmed
The Future of EV Battery Technology
Right now, most car makers are even struggling to cross the 200-mile mark on their EV ranges, but within the next few years, battery costs will significantly come down and enable manufacturers to put out cheaper cars with much longer ranges that match internal combustion engine vehicles (ICE).
The one factor that will speed up this process is the demand for EVs. As more consumers shift to electric vehicles, the scale of battery making will make them cheaper to produce. In the last year alone several major car makers such as Volkswagen, BMW, Mercedes and even Jaguar have announced their EV plans for the next 2-5 years. Although Tesla is clearly the leader in the EV market, it’s not going to be long before they have the world’s biggest auto companies breathing down their necks.
It’s kind of a Catch 22 situation where EV demand is proportionate to battery range and the price of cars, which in turn are dependent on EV demand from consumers. The only way forward is to take risks and become a path-breaker. Unfortunately, investors in well-known companies aren’t going to allow such risks, and that leaves the road clear for Tesla to pull out ahead of the pack.
Developments such as Toyota’s breakthrough are currently few and far between, but we’ll soon see acceleration on that front as well. Research groups around the world are already looking for alternatives to Lithium-ion batteries such as Lithium-Sulphur and even Aluminium and, before long someone, somewhere will make a breakthrough that will push EV battery development into hyper-drive.
The best part about this rat race is that the consumer is the ultimate beneficiary. EVs will get cheaper and more in line with the prices of mainstream economy ICE vehicles, ranges will get longer until it doesn’t make sense to own a petrol or diesel vehicle, and the entire automobile market will be upended in favor of EVs. In fact, it is inEVitable!
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