When will we conquer range anxiety in electric vehicles?
Imagine this common scenario: You merge onto the interstate in your car for a quick trip, then encounter a serious automobile accident that stops traffic cold. You have 20 miles to go until empty and no way to exit for gasoline.
That worrisome feeling is called range anxiety, and it’s the major barrier to larger scale electric vehicle adoption.
Internal combustion engine cars provide plenty of range, refueling possibilities are ubiquitous and it takes no time to refuel. For electric vehicles, range is much more limited, recharging takes longer and, consequently, range anxiety is more frequent.
While range anxiety is still a barrier, the good news is innovators are making important progress toward a world where electric vehicle batteries deliver a better travel experience, enabling you to turn the key and go as far as you want, whenever you want.
We talked with John Johnson of the STMicroelectronics automotive systems marketing team to learn about the latest trends and challenges in electric vehicle battery design.
It’s fun and instructive to look at the history of various technologies, and that’s certainly true of electric vehicles.
The first rechargeable battery was developed in France in 1859, and early vehicles used batteries to operate. Several innovations quickly changed the landscape: The discovery of oil along with development of the internal combustion engine and improved roads made longer trips possible. Batteries could no longer meet the need.
Even though electric cars outsold internal combustion engine-powered cars initially, internal combustion vehicles quickly passed them by.
Now, electric vehicles are making serious inroads to overcome range anxiety.
“Battery range is getting better all the time. That’s not just because battery packs are growing in capacity but also because battery management is getting better,” Johnson said.
To make the most of your design and reduce range anxiety, Johnson recommends evaluating these key performance indicators:
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
|PARAMETER||UNIT||SIGNIFICANCE TO END-PRODUCT|
|Energy Density||LW-h/l||compactness, range (vehicle), operating time|
|Specific Power||W/kg||weight, range|
|Charge Time||hrs||Utility (if rechargeable is required)|
|Service Life||Cycles, Years||Reliability, Long term cost|
|Cost||$||Acquisition Cost, replacement cost|
|PARAMETER||UNIT||SIGNIFICANCETO THE CONSUMER|
|State of charge (SOC)||%||How far can I go?|
|State of Health (SOH)||%||When will I need to replace the battery?|
Whether you’re designing a forklift, a drone or an electric vehicle, pay attention to these considerations to get your battery design right from the beginning.
Johnson says he’s optimistic about the future of electric vehicles and innovation to conquer range anxiety.
“When hybrid vehicles came out, the batteries were afterthoughts. Everything was kind of clunky. In today’s electric vehicles, especially from startups, we see slick skateboard-type designs that you could bolt any chassis onto and make a car or a delivery vehicle. It’s going to be really impressive to see the types of vehicles coming out on the market,” he said.
JJason Struble has been with Avnet since 2011, working as a field applications engineer, technical sales engineer and most recently as a supplier manager in the transportation/automotive business unit.