CATL aims to boost EV range with battery cells installed in vehicle frames


Chinese battery maker CATL is looking to boost the range of electric cars by packing batteries into vehicle frames, according to a Reuters report published Wednesday.

Distributing battery cells throughout a car allows for more total cells, increasing energy-storage capacity and thus range.

This will allow future electric cars to achieve a 500-mile range, CATL chairman Zeng Yuqun said at an industry conference in Wuhan, China, Wednesday, according to Reuters.

CATL reportedly wants to bring the technology to production before 2030, but Zeng did not say if the company was working with a specific automaker, the report noted. The company currently supplies battery cells to multiple automakers, including Tesla for Chinese-market Model 3 sedans.

This isn’t the first time a company has proposed using a vehicle’s structure for energy storage. 

In 2018, Swedish researchers said they were looking at making the entire vehicle body the battery—encased in carbon fiber.

Prior to that, Volvo experimented with storing energy in body panels, using a composite material made from carbon fiber.

But barriers remain. Safety is one. Placing the battery in the middle of the vehicle, mostly away from crush zones, in a centralized pack, has helped make it more predictable for first responders in crashes.

And keeping the mass of the cells low and centralized has also helped EVs like the Tesla Model S Performance and Porsche Taycan Turbo S handle so well. Moving cells to other parts of the car could upset that balance.





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