Kia to introduce 800-volt battery system, goosing charging speeds
Charging time is the Achilles’ heel of EVs. Much faster refueling could be enabled by boosting the voltage of an EV’s battery system from the 400 volts used by most current models.
The Porsche Taycan uses an 800-volt battery architecture, which means the current can be cut in half, so wires can be lighter and thinner. According to Porsche, at the Taycan’s maximum charging power of 270 kilowatts, the battery can be charged from 5% to 80% of capacity in about 20 minutes.
GM says its upcoming Hummer EV will also use an 800-volt system.
Now Kia says it will introduce an 800-volt battery system on a new crossover-like EV that will be launched in 2021. The company said in January that the new model will have “around 300 miles” of range and offer a “sub-20-minute recharge time.”
Automakers’ EV efforts will remain focused on Europe for the near future, so it could be some time before the new faster-charging Kia is available in the US. A Kia spokesperson told Electrek that the company’s electric priority is Europe, and that its US EV sales would continue to be limited, for various reasons. However, the company has said that pure EVs will make up 20% of its US sales by 2026.
Electrek’s Bradley Berman notes that Kia is currently selling EVs in only 13 or so US states, and that it sold no more than 2,000 EVs in the US in 2019, so the company’s predictions should be sprinkled with a grain or two of (lithium) salt.
Be that as it may, an increase to 800 volts is clearly the future. As EV ranges push past 400 miles, and charging networks are starting to roll out 350 kW fast chargers, system voltages will have to be cranked up to keep pace.