In the battle for electric car range supremacy, only Tesla’s all-electric Model S sedan can currently manage more than 200 miles on a single charge, thanks in part to its massive 60 or 85 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack.
Come 2016 however, says South Korean battery manufacturer LG Chem, it will be suppling 200-mile battery packs to one of its electric car customers. Who that customer is remains a mystery.
Talking with Reuters on Friday, LG Chem’s Chief Financial Officer Cho Suk-jeh promised the battery manufacturer’s second generation lithium-ion battery pack would deliver a massive improvement of range on its current first-generation battery packs.
An improvement which could make travelling 200 miles or more on a single charge something that every new electric car was capable of, not just expensive luxury cars like the Tesla Model S.
The breakthrough in technology between the first and second generation of LG Chem’s battery cells lies in the energy density of the cells. The energy density of lithium-ion battery packs — how much energy you can store per unit mass — has improved dramatically over the past five years. The more energy stored per unit mass, the larger a battery pack’s capacity is for a given size. The larger the capacity, the longer the range.
Currently, LG Chem provides battery cells to General Motors for its Volt range-extended electric car, and to Renault for its Zoe supermini and Twizy city quadricycle. While LG Chem does provide battery packs to other clients too — including Hyundai for use in its hybrid cars and to Ford for its plug-in cars — we’d guess that both GM and Renault will be at the top of the list of buyers for the new technology.
Since neither Suk-jeh nor LG Chem has officially named who will get the new battery, we can’t say for sure who the first 200-mile battery packs will go to. We do know however that GM CEO Dan Akerson has previously promised GM would be bringing a 200-mile EV to market some time around 2016, so we’re pretty confident GM is going to be one of probably many customers for the new pack.
The question we’re all eager to have answered though is this: how much will a 200-mile battery pack cost?
Leave your guesses in the Comments below.
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