Electric cars have a battery capable of storing electrical energy that feeds one or more electric motors. If you think that there is only one type of battery, you are very wrong, we review all of them with their features and capacities.
When evaluating a battery for an electric vehicle, the following main parameters must always be taken into account:
Life cycle: These are the maximum charge and discharge cycles that the battery can withstand until it needs to be replaced. The more cycles, the longer the battery life.
Cost: the influence of the price of the vehicles.
Energy density: it is the energy that can be supplied for each kg, it is measured in Wh/kg, and the higher the density, the greater the autonomy of the vehicle.
Efficiency: It is measured in % and it is the true performance of the battery, that is to say, the energy that it uses.
Power: it is the capacity to provide power (maximum amperage), it is measured in W/kg, and more power better performance.
Next, we detail the different types of electric car batteries that are currently used:
The Different Types of Car Batteries
It is the oldest of all since it was invented in the 19th century and is still alive with hardly any modifications, although it is not ideal for electric vehicles and we would not recommend it according to its composition and our research.
Specifications to note:
Low cost, ideal for starting, lighting, or electrical support functions.
It is mainly used as an accumulator in small vehicles.
Excessive weight as it is a fairly heavy unit
Lead toxicity which can pose health related harm
It does take a while to charge, which makes it inefficient and unreliable to meet today’s demand.
They offer between 6 and 12 volts, which can be fairly limited.
They can offer up to 100 km of autonomy in hybrid mechanics.
Very limited life with 500 to 800 charge and discharge cycles, so it does need a fair amount of maintenance and upkeep work to keep it fully operative. There are definitely better options out on the market.
Due to the high cost of its components, this technology is not predominantly used in electric vehicle production. Instead, it’s favored for airplanes, military vehicles, and helicopters, thanks to its superior performance in low temperatures. It is exclusively utilised in electrified vehicles.
They have a memory effect, so their capacity is reduced with each recharge.
Remarkable useful life, with 500 to 2,000 charge and discharge cycles.
Limited energy density.
It requires some care and maintenance.
Expensive; entry price is considered high in comparison to other options.
It can be temperature dependent, meaning high temperatures can cause them to degrade precipitously and therefore a lower charge each time; fast degradation.
Not as environmentally friendly in comparison to others, can cause a fair amount of pollution
Nickel Metal Hydride Battery
Similar to nickel-cadmium, but with better capacity and less environmental aggression, which is why it is well accepted among hybrid vehicles.
They require constant maintenance.
Significant deterioration at high temperatures. Heavily influenced by surrounding temperatures. Very heat sensitive which can overall impeded on its performance.
High discharge currents or overloads, but they do not withstand strong energy discharges or high charging currents.
They generate too much heat and recharge slowly.
Lifetime limited with 300 to 500 charge and discharge cycles. This is considered very low in comparison to the industry average for batteries of this range.
Lithium-ion battery (LiCoO2)
They are currently preferred by electric automobiles due to their high specific energies, high efficiency, the elimination of the memory effect, lack of maintenance, and ease of recycling Lithium-Ion waste, although they are still in the development process.
Twice the energy density of nickel-cadmium batteries, with a size on the order of a third smaller.
They offer great autonomy.
High production cost, although little by little this is being reduced.
They can explode from overheating and must be stored with great care.
Good levels of useful life with 400 to 1,200 charge and discharge cycles. Not as high as the best out there, but neither the lowest.
Worth a mention
It does not use cobalt so it has greater stability and safety. It provides a longer life cycle and higher power, although with lower energy density and at a high-cost today.
Lithium Polymer Battery
It has some improvements such as a higher energy density and a higher power. They are lighter, more efficient, and have no memory effect. Its high cost and low life cycle give these batteries, a “soft” appearance due to their lithium and polymer components, an option that is not currently very widespread.
It is a lithium-ion battery, but with its cathode made up of nickel-manganese-cobalt, it achieves good values of energy density, thus allowing the sale of slightly cheaper electric cars, and with good autonomy.
In this case, its cathode is made of nickel-cobalt-aluminium, achieving excellent energy density and very good charging efficiency, but with somewhat lower performance at high temperatures.
Solid State Battery
It is also an evolution of the lithium-ion battery and has an electrolyte that is not a conductive liquid, but rather a solid conductor, thus drastically reducing its degradation over time, with a much longer useful life. They are the ‘great evolution’ within the different types of batteries for electric cars.
ZEBRA Battery (molten salt)
They have crushed sodium chloroaluminate as an electrolyte, achieving very interesting energy and power characteristics. They have the best cycle life of all batteries, but they take up a lot of space and their power is low.
With a storage capacity of up to 10 times more than the Lithium-Ion type and an energy density beyond the reach of the rest, this type of battery has not had a good commercial acceptance due to its recharging and reliability problems. It is in the experimental phase.
Also in the experimental phase, they need to obtain oxygen from the atmosphere to generate a current. It has a high energy potential, and reliability and is capable of storing three times the energy of lithium-ion batteries in the same volume and at half the cost. According to some experts, zinc is positioned as the electrical fuel of the future.