How has battery technology advanced?

We’re racing in the Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY to showcase just what electric vehicles are capable of – pushing them to the limits in full competitive conditions, as well as extremes of temperature and even altitude.

Our mission is to convert our fans into passionate EV advocates and drivers, helping you to make more sustainable transport decisions and to recognise that driving an EV is a valid option that is without compromise.

So, in the first of our series of blogs, today we’re looking at battery technology – where it is now, how far it’s come, and where is heading in the very near future.

1990s-2010s

Did you know that the first commercially available lithium-ion battery went on sale in 1991? The very technology that has become synonymous with powering device in our lives – from smartphones to pacemakers – has only been on sale to the public for 28 years.

Why is that important? Well, the principles that led to the development and proliferation of the lithium-ion battery into every aspect of our daily lives are the same ones that are driving battery technology in electric vehicles today.

In short, battery technology has developed rapidly in a very short space of time, offering more power in a smaller package (known as energy density), while also allowing faster charging without limiting the lifespan of the battery itself. This might sound simple, but the chemistry behind it is incredibly complex and has had to expand from powering devices like Walkmans and TV remotes, to meeting the demands of smartphones, laptops and, now, electric cars in less than 30 years.

Check out this awesome Fully Charged video to find out more:

2010-2020

While electric cars were a fixture in the early days of the automobile, the current renaissance of electric vehicles started around 2008 and has driven rapid developments in battery science over the past decade – particularly in charging times and range.

In the past six years alone, the median electric car range has increased by 56%, from 117km (73 miles) to 183km (114 miles) according to the US Department of Energy. The speed of development is only getting faster, and average range of EVs is expected to hit 442km (275 miles) by 2022, and over 643km (400 miles) by 2028.

The Jaguar I-PACE that we race in the eTROPHY series first went on sale last year and is a great example of how quickly innovations in battery technology, and how this power is stored and replaced, are progressing.

The I-PACE has a range of 470km (292 miles) from its 90kWh battery, which is made up of high energy density lithium-ion pouch cells. By pairing these with state-of-the-art thermal management systems, the batteries boast boosted longevity and are better able to deliver sustained periods of maximum power – something we put to the test on the track, using every bit of the 395bhp that our I-PACE delivers.

Range is not the only area where battery developments are making a big difference to electric car owners. Charging times are also falling as quickly as range is being added, and with a 50kW DC rapid charger – the kind found at most public charging stations – the road-going I-PACE can achieve up to 270km of range per hour.

All these innovations are designed to help making the transition from Internal Combustion Engines (ICEs) to full EVs as easy as possible for consumers.

The Future

Well, in short, electric cars are the future.

As of December 2018, there were around 5.3 million all-electric of plug-in hybrid vehicles in use worldwide – up from 1 million in 2015 – and this rate of sales is only set to continue, with 71 million EVs expected to be sold by 2020.

Battery development will continue to match the needs of the consumer, offering better range, faster charging and a wider range of affordable options as mass-production of EVs increases – the cost of EV batteries fell by more than 35% between 2008 and 2014, and is set to continue this trend.

Alongside this, we can expect the materials used in the batteries to change in order to provide greater energy density, increased flexibility and more sustainable options for recycling. A particularly interesting material in this area is graphene, which could offer significant boosts in charging time and tighter packaging for batteries – although its expense and energy density are prohibitive for mass production at this time.

Battery technology has come a long way in the last 28 years and we’re excited to show you just how far it has come at a race track in a city near you soon.

We want to hear from you

We hope you enjoyed this blog. We want to hear from you – what are your burning questions about EVs, what myths do you want busted and what do you want to know about our I-PACE eTROPHY car.

Give us your feedback and we’ll do our best to respond with a fun and informative blog.

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