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Could Developments at Volvo Change the Future of Electric Vehicles

Swedish car manufacturer Volvo is working to make luxury lightweight, partnering up with nine European companies and institutes for revolutionary new energy storage components that could change the future of electric vehicles.

The proof is in the prototype—and specifically in Volvo’s S80 model experimental car, which is being unveiled with panels made of carbon fibres, nano-structured batteries and super capacitors that make everything a lot lighter and much more spacious.

It’s 15% lighter, and boasting extra interior space.

The project—three and half years in the making—was initiated by Imperial College in London and has brought together nine European companies and institutes to develop new technology, with Volvo participating as the only car manufacturer.

Related article: Developments in the Motor Industry Pushing Peak Oil Down the Road

Not only is the new model lightweight and all “nanoed” up—it’s also said to be cost-effective and eco-friendly.

This new material charges and stores energy faster than conventional batteries while also being strong and pliant. This layered fabric can be molded into the shape of a car’s body panels.

Volvo claims that a vehicle’s entire steel frame could be made out of the stuff, greatly reducing weight without losing structural integrity while also acting as the electrical storage.

For now, on Volvo's S80 prototype, the trunk lid and a plenum cover are both made of the material.

Related article: Under Pressure to Innovate, GM Unveils Bi-Fuel Sedan

Per-Ivar Sellergren, development engineer at the Volvo Cars Materials Centre, said that Volvo role is to contribute expertise on how this technology can be integrated in the future and to input ideas about the advantages and disadvantages in terms of cost and user-friendliness.

"This is a relatively large structure that is easy to replace. Not sufficiently large to power the entire car, but enough to switch the engine off and on when the car is at a standstill, for instance at traffic lights," he said.

When can we expect to see it hit the market? Not in the immediate future. Carbon fiber is expensive and making entire panels out of two layers would make the car unattainable for the masses.

By. James Stafford of Oilprice.com

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Leave a comment
  • Michal Berezowski on October 31 2013 said:
    ...you gotta love today's populist "science" & tech reporting. Just grab a catchy topic (why, tech solutions to energy crisis, everybody wants one), spice it up with some buzzwords, and serve - no matters if it doesn't make any sense at all: these two quotes, are coming from the article above (yes, from one single article...)

    "Not only is the new model lightweight and all “nanoed” up—it’s also said to be cost-effective and eco-friendly."

    "When can we expect to see it hit the market? Not in the immediate future. Carbon fiber is expensive and making entire panels out of two layers would make the car unattainable for the masses."

    hmm.. yeah... right. Not self-contradictory, not at all.

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