Some of the most pressing problems associated with powering electric vehicles have more to do with where batteries sit in the chassis than how much juice they provide.
So says Bob Galyen, CTO of lithium-ion battery maker Contemporary Amperex Technology Ltd. (CATL) and President of Business Development Amperex Technology Limited in China. Galyen also chairs the SAE International Battery Standards Steering Committee.
CATL is China’s second-biggest provider of battery systems for battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid EVs (PHEVs). The company shipped 2.43 GW-hr-worth of cells in 2015 and plans to as much as triple that this year. In that regard, Galyen explains that they’ve noticed some vehicle makers designing battery packs to sit in the crumple zones of their EVs, where the vehicle is designed to absorb energy from an impact during a traffic collision by controlled deformation. Putting a big battery in this area not exactly a safe practice.
The problem has shown up in both electric-powered buses and cars, Galyen says. CATL is familiar with EV-bus market because of fast-charging technology it has devised that will be applied in an EV-bus later this year.
However, crumple-zone problems are mainly confined to vehicle makers that are not exactly household names. “Small car companies sometimes don’t have enough engineers to think through all aspects of an EV design. We’ve seen examples of bad design internationally, but Chinese companies are getting smart about this quickly,” Galyen says.
Early adopters of EV technology in India also tend to experience battery location problems, he says, and may not follow international battery standards as closely as suppliers in other countries.