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Surface charge: making electric cars lighter with body parts that double as batteries

Materials that turn car body parts into batteries could help lighten the load on electric vehicles – and a host of other technologies.

The Lola-Drayson B12/69EV electric racing car is one of the first to use structural batteries – load-bearing body parts that also store energy.

Batteries represent one of electric vehicles’ biggest problems. They’re heavy, take ages to recharge, have a limited lifetime and create extra safety challenges. But what if a car’s body itself could store energy, reducing or possibly even eliminating the need for a big block of chemicals sat in the middle of the chassis?

Structural energy storage has been an idea of both automotive and defence manufacturers for more than a decade, and now several groups of British engineers and scientists are helping to make it a reality. If the technology can be refined, it could help to create not just better electric cars but also lighter equipment for soldiers and consumer electronics – and perhaps even aircraft.

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