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Car parts that store energy, power car

Why build a bigger battery when you can build a car that is the battery?


Range anxiety is one of the biggest hurdles to widespread EV adoption. But to build a car with longer range, you need a bigger battery pack. Unfortunately, the bigger the battery, the higher the price.

But what if instead of increasing the battery size, you turned the entire car into a battery pack on wheels?

Volvo is working with several research groups to replace the metallic parts of cars with a composite material that will one day power its vehicles. The composite is a blend of carbon fibers and polymer resin that can store energy and charge and discharge faster than conventional batteries. The only downside is that it's still a few years away.

Volvo got involved with this three-year project started by the Imperial College in London early this year. The first stage of the project is to produce this material on an industrial scale and study ways to replace existing metallic components in the car with the composite battery, starting with the car's spare wheel recess.

"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," Per-Ivar Sellergren, development engineer at the Volvo Cars Materials Centre, said in a news statement.

The ultimate goal is to replace the battery entirely, but that's a long way off. The following video clip demonstrates the weight-saving technology at work: