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Batteries Getting Better, Smaller

Though there is no general consensus on the rate of battery improvement, some experts have suggested that electric car battery technology improves at a rate of approximately 7 percent per year, which would mean a doubling of efficiency every ten years. J.B. Straubel, the Chief Technology Officer for a very prominent electric automaker, Tesla Motors, agrees with the 7 percent figure, which would mean that a typical electric car in the year 2022 would have a range of approximately 200 miles, using battery packs that weigh the same as the current ones do. The flip side of that coin is that a 2022 EV could merely employ a battery half the current size and keep its 100-mile range.

Others in the field of battery science have pointed to the concept of lithium-air batteries as the “next big thing,” in the arena of automotive electrification. Right now, lithium-air units are workable but very expensive. They are quite small, don’t weigh nearly as much as standard EV batteries yet deliver greater power density.

On the battery news front, car giants Toyota and BMW have finally enacted the terms of their 2011 memorandum of understanding in which the companies agreed to jointly develop various sustainable technologies. Now they are doing just that, with last week’s announcement that the two will attempt to make advances to lithium battery systems.


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