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Volkswagen Announces Plans to Work on Lithium-Air Batteries

It has been confirmed that Volkswagen is working on a powerful new battery for its EV fleet. Speaking at the Geneva motor show, Dr. Heinz-Jakob Neusser said that “an 80kWh unit is under development using our own technology. It would provide between three and four times the battery power in a given package.” This means that a battery of equivalent physical size to that used in the new 2015 Volkswagen e-Golf could hold the amount of energy in a top-end Tesla Model S.

Neusser refused to name the specific battery chemistry, but didn’t deny it’s a lithium-air unit. Lithium-air has been a battery holy grail of sorts since the 1970s, but obstacles such as electrolyte degradation, manufacturability, and high cost have prevented the lithium-air takeover that would truly catapult EVs into the mainstream. But improvements on lithium-air technology continue to move forward with recent work by researchers from Mie University in Japan.

The primary distinction between lithium-ion and lithium-air batteries is that lithium-air batteries replace the cathode with air — which results in a notably lighter battery, with the potential to hold in a great deal of energy. Some researchers have stated that these “breathing” batteries could result in EVs with ranges greater than 300 miles a charge.
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