Massive EV batteries provide great range – and lots of dead weight

  • The GMC Hummer EV Edition 1 pickup tips the scales to over 9,000 pounds, with a battery pack that alone weighs more than some whole cars.
  • Car manufacturers realize the need to increase efficiency in the future, but current battery technology does not yet have an energy density that makes it possible to maintain the range and performance demanded by consumers with smaller battery packs.
  • The Lucid Air Grand Touring achieves a whopping 516 miles in a much smaller pack than the Hummers, but it still weighs over 5,200 pounds – and costs more than $ 140,000.

    It’s impossible to get around: the new GMC Hummer EV, which attracted a lot of attention at The Amelia Concours in Florida on March 6, is a heavyweight. According to test data, the Edition 1 tips the 9063-pound scale, with about a third of that (2923 pounds) in the battery pack alone. The package weighs more than a Honda Civic sedan.

    To give the beefy premium 1000-horsepower Hummer more than 350 miles of range and great eye-catching acceleration, a whopping 210 kilowatt-hour (kWh) battery pack was required. It’s far from the late Lotus founder Colin Chapman’s memorable phrase, “Simplify, then add ease.”

    GM declined to comment, but Carlos Tavares, CEO of Stellantis, said in a telephone interview that it is a “valid” point that cars should be lighter. “It’s harder to drive heavy cars,” he said. “The second question has to do with scarce raw materials [that are slowing down auto production]- More of these materials are required to make larger cars. So, yes, we need to make cars lighter, so that they will use less energy. Lighter electric cars will not have to carry such large batteries and will have shorter charging times. ”

    Just because the obvious solution is to get to smaller packages by reducing vehicle weight with reduced components and lightweight materials such as carbon fiber or aluminum, do not expect that the industry will necessarily go decisively in that direction. The price is a consideration. Americans like their big cars (including Hummers), and some industry insiders claim that critical sustainability issues will actually move elsewhere.

    The lobster EV, which weighs more than 9,000 pounds, was a hit at The Amelia Concours in Florida.

    Jim Motavalli

    Anthony Schiavo, head of research at Lux Research, is the author of the report Electric Vehicle Lightweighting 2030, which predicts that battery pack densities will increase by 15 percent in the coming decade. “Battery performance, energy density and cost have improved very dramatically, reducing the cost penalty for larger battery packs,” Schiavo said in an interview. “We are around $ 100 to $ 120 per kilowatt hour now. An important conclusion for car manufacturers is that the way to increase the range is to use larger packages, not a ton of very expensive carbon fiber and advanced composites – the hallmark of early cars like the BMW i3.”

    Schiavo says that we should not assess electric cars according to old environmental standards. “Obviously a 9000 pound lobster is not durable, and it’s not the type of vehicle you should use to pick up the groceries,” he said. “But these are electric cars, without problems with exhaust pollutants inherent in combustion. I think important considerations for future constructions will be lighter weights for cost reduction – to use cheaper and thinner materials – and material supply. Get the material through unsustainable mining or from conflict areas? ”

    “Yes, we need to make cars lighter, so that they will use less energy.”
    —Carlos Tavares

    Although it is dying now, Schiavo believes that the type of battery replacement of electric cars proposed by the now defunct Better Place may return. “It comes into its own in China for fleets through companies like Nine,” he said. “We expect to see more replacements, especially if an electric car brand becomes dominant in sales and there is some battery standardization in the industry.”

    Nevertheless, car manufacturers can and will try to reduce the weight of their electric vehicles. John Catterall, vice president of automotive marketing at the American Iron and Steel Institute, acknowledged that improvements in battery technology could reduce the need for lightweights. But in an interview, he said that high-strength steel for products such as battery holders “will mean that car manufacturers can get away with thinner materials that can take a higher load. We must work to reduce the mass of electric cars, and reductions of 25 percent are possible in cars using high-strength steel. ”

    gmc lobster ev is a first super truck of its kind developed to create new roads without emissions

    The GMC Hummer EV Pickup offers a 329-mile EPA combined range.

    GMC

    powered by next-generation ev-propulsion technology, gmc lobster may be the first fully electric addition to gmc's range and will take gm one step closer to a fully electric future

    Only the battery in the Hummer EV Edition 1 weighs more than a whole Honda Civic.

    GMC

    These battery holders can also be made of thermoplastic resin, says Matt Zessin, car marketing manager at M. Holland Company, which distributes such products. “Electric cars are relatively new in our market,” he said in an interview. “But batteries are a major component in the weight of the vehicle. We look at the entire landscape, including the washers and lids.” The specific solution is fiberglass mixed with polypropylene, which is already used in instrument panels and center consoles, he said.

    Carbon fiber, which is seen in many electric cars, has huge weight benefits, but Zessin said “the problem has been getting carbon fiber at a price that makes sense to the market.” Carbon fiber really makes sense on advanced electric supercars, and for some parts. Carbon Revolution, for example, is an Australian wheel manufacturer that has supplied Ford (including Shelby’s), Ferrari and General Motors (Corvette Z06). The company says it has six programs in production with three global companies, and another nine programs under development. On electric SUVs and pickups, it was said, “very meaningful benefits of range extension” are possible.

    In the April issue, Consumer Reports mapped the range of current electric cars, with Lucid Air Grand Touring at the top, 516 miles on a single charge. The closest competitor was the long-distance version of the Tesla Model S, with 405. Grand Touring’s battery pack is 112 kWh, large but not the largest on the market. Tesla’s pack is only slightly smaller, at 100 kWh. The Hummer EV’s 210 kWh gives 329 miles – a result that is partly explained by the weight of the vehicle. So what’s Lucid’s secret?

    2022 clear air

    Increasing efficiency is a priority at Lucid, with weight loss a major focus.

    Lucid Motors

    Eric Bach, senior vice president of product and chief engineer at Lucid Motors, told Autoweek that getting more miles out of a battery pack with a certain amount of stored energy has a number of dimensions. “Our 0.20 air resistance coefficient is world class, and we have a small front area on the air,” he said. “We have low rolling resistance in our own tires, in all bearings and in the entire system. And we lightened the driveline, which includes engine, differential, gearbox and inverter. It weighs only 74 kilos [163 pounds]. Tesla’s unit in Model 3 weighs 92 kilos [202 pounds], 30 percent heavier and less powerful. And so it is our overall effort to make the whole car as light as possible. ”

    Grand Touring is not a lightweight – it reaches the weight of 5266 pounds. Most electric cars are heavy and will not please Colin Chapman anytime soon. Batteries are still a big burden to carry, but car manufacturers are using all the means at their disposal to build efficient cars around them.

    Share your thoughts on everything EV, battery pack and the relative power of both in the comments below.

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