The dark cloud hanging over electric vehicles in the
wake of recent Chevy Volt fires may not lift, no matter how much engineers to
do improve EV safety. That's because they're up against the gating factor of
battery pack cost.
say rising concerns over safety are going to make it tougher for engineers
to dramatically cut the costs of lithium-ion battery packs. Already, General
Motors is reportedly considering a redesign of its lithium-ion battery
pack to help prevent damage during a collision.
"We just don't know how much lower we can go in terms of price,"
says Donald Sadoway, a battery expert and the John F. Elliott Professor of
Materials Chemistry at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "It's not as
if we can stand on the shoulders of all the work that's been done on cellphone
and laptop batteries up to now. Laptop batteries don't have to be crashworthy."
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said one Volt fire
occurred after a side crash test was performed on it in May. During the test,
the vehicle's battery was damaged, and a coolant line was ruptured. The fire
occurred three weeks later. Three similar tests in November did not result in
fires, though one damaged battery did emit sparks and smoke, the agency said.
Read the rest
of the article at Design News, along with other posts by Captain Hybrid.