Heavy battery packs have long been the achillies heel of hybrid and full electric cars, but new technology developed by Volvo could see batteries integrated into body panels.
The Swedish firm has managed to create a new material, comprising of carbon-fibre polymer resins and “nanostructured batteries and supercapacitors”, which can not only hold charge in the same way as a conventional battery, but also be moulded into many different shapes.
The new technology could see future hybrid and EV cars being powered by their bodywork, with Volvo already having created a bootlid and spare wheel-well out of the new material.
The manufacturer claims that a panel as small as a bootlid could be enough to replace the batteries currently fitted to all combustion engine cars.
The new battery technology also takes less time to reach full charge than a conventional nickel hydride or lithium ion battery, and can be plugged in or harness energy normally wasted when a car brakes.
The developments have come as part of an EU funded project to find an alternative solution to the heavy and space-consuming batteries. Amongst nine participants, Volvo was the only car manufacturer involved in the project.
The new material has spent three years undergoing testing fitted to a Volvo S80 test mule. The company believes it could reduce the weight of an electric car by a staggering 15 per cent.
You can search for your own Volvo S80, albeit without nanotechnology battery body panels, here.