Volvo wants its sales to consist of nothing but electric vehicles as early as 2030. In order for that to happen, though, EVs need to address range and charging and how to bring them closer to parity with modern gas vehicles. Thankfully, the Swedish automaker has some ideas on how to make that happen.
Volvo announced on Wednesday that it will implement a wide variety of measures intended to improve electric vehicle batteries for future models. This includes what Volvo refers to as its second-generation EVs, which will start landing in vehicles in the coming years, followed by a third generation to debut around the middle of this decade.
One of the biggest changes coming to Volvo’s second-generation batteries will be the construction itself. Not only will the battery consist of fewer components overall, it will sport a flat layout that will allow Volvo’s EVs to rock a truly flat floor. The automaker hopes to improve energy density by approximately 50%, allowing for higher range estimates. Volvo will put additional stress on using sustainable resources during this time, too.
But it’s the third generation where things truly ramp up. Volvo hopes to dramatically reduce the material in each battery, in addition to using its sandwich structure as an integral part of the vehicle’s floor, giving the car some added rigidity and further improving efficiency. It’s these batteries that Volvo believes will allow 1,000 kilometers (about 621 miles) of real-world range.
A giant battery is no good if it takes a week and a half to charge, but Volvo’s working on that, too. The automaker aims to halve the time it takes batteries to go from 10% to 80%. This will likely be done through a combination of 800-volt charging capability, lowering internal resistances and improving thermal management. Bidirectional charging, which allows an electric Volvo to contribute to the power grid, is slated to arrive with the XC90’s electric successor in 2022, although it’s currently unclear which markets will support that technology.
Every stage of the battery’s life is subject to improvement, including death. The automaker is investigating second-life uses for batteries, usually in some sort of large-scale storage device. Improvements to the battery recycling process are on the table, as well, since that would reduce the need to dig more stuff out of the ground, which is costly in terms of both money and carbon emissions.
We’ve already seen one early step in the move toward better batteries. Earlier in June, Volvo announced a partnership with fellow Swedish company Northvolt. The two will work together on producing more sustainable batteries that will power future electric vehicles. Together, they aim to complete a new battery production facility that could make up to 50 gigawatt-hours (yes, gigawatt-hours) of batteries per year.