The battery in every gasoline or diesel vehicle today looks pretty much the same: It’s a black box with two silver posts for the cables. Sure, there can be some minor differences inside, but automobile batteries haven’t changed much for around a century, according to a report by Automotive News.
Things are going to be very different as the electric vehicle era ramps up. Billions are being spent to improve battery safety, durability, power capabilities and charging times.
The battery is changing from being a cheaply replaced regular wear item into one of the most crucial parts of the vehicle.
It will be the battery that determines how far and how fast an EV can go on a charge. The battery will affect the sticker price when a vehicle is new and its value on the used-car market.
Unlike today’s batteries, EV batteries will come in different shapes and sizes and have chemistries that vary, depending on the battery manufacturer, the brand of vehicle and the vehicle’s mission.
A sports car, for example, would likely have a battery pack designed to deliver a lot of power quickly. A sedan, on the other hand, would likely have an energy-dense pack made for long-range driving.
“If I look at the history and evolution of things, we’re still doing incremental improvements,” said Richard LeCain, head of cell and process development at Britishvolt, a U.K. battery company about two years from producing its first cells for automakers. “There won’t be a moonshot in batteries that is the equivalent of going from ground to putting people on the moon. There will be quite a bit going on in the chemistry realm and improvement there that continues to drive efficiencies and cost reductions of cells. That’s still the path.”