While it may have taken BMW a little longer than other manufacturers to grasp the electric vehicle nettle, the boutique vehicle manufacture is certainly making up for lost time. The company is adamant that its "i" range of electric vehicles will be successful and it will eventually receive a significant return on its initial $2.7 billion investment. However, the company also believes that the battery technology sector is on the verge of a major breakthrough, the greatest leap in technology for 100 years.
Ian Robertson, the public face of BMW, has been waxing lyrical about the state of the battery technology market and what leaps the company expects in the short to medium term. So what should we be looking out for?
Is lithium ion battery technology fully developed?
Interestingly, Ian Robertson believes that the last 10 years have seen more development in the battery technology market than we have seen over the last 100 years. While he believes that lithium ion has been a game changer for the electric vehicle industry, he is also adamant that it is starting to come towards the end of its life-cycle.
Quote from ElectricForum.com : "There seems to be a lot going on behind the scenes in the battery sector - rumors that IBM is working on a battery which can do 500 miles per full charge. There is even talk of a battery which can do 1000 miles per full charge but it might not be rechargeable."
This is a technology which has brought the EV market to the edge of the mass-market and has certainly received massive investment funding over the last decade. There have been rumours of different battery technologies coming to the market in the short to medium term, there has been much comment about hybrid vehicles and indeed the likes of hydrogen powered vehicles have always been in the background, so what developments can we expect in the medium term?
It is difficult to say with any great certainty which new type of battery technology will come to the fore in the short to medium term because those companies investigating new technologies are unlikely to make their findings public until they have a viable technology to sell. We have seen speculation about IBM being heavily involved in the battery technology industry, we have seen some of the old favourites such as solar power mentioned as a possible add-on to the current lithium ion technology but the truth is nobody can point at any one technology which will take over in the future.
The fact that governments around the world are also investing an enormous amount of money in battery technology is also worth noting. In many ways the battery technology sector was starved of investment before the last decade and indeed we are still in the catch-up period. It seems that too much focus was given to the design and the look of electric vehicles, such as lightweight bodywork, etc, often ignoring the fundamentals of power supply.
We will continue to keep you up-to-date with ongoing developments in the battery technology industry, we will highlight rumours and counter rumours and hopefully in the midst of all this information we can begin to see a way forward for new battery technologies. Whether or not we are approaching the maximum efficiency for lithium ion batteries remains to be seen but they will likely play a major role in the EV industry at least in the short to medium term.