Volvo Reveals Body Panels That Act as a Battery

Volvo Reveals Body Panels That Act as a Battery

In development for three and a half years Volvo has today announced what could be a revolutionary new technology for the auto industry, incorporating batteries into a car’s body panels.

With the increasing electrification of cars, Volvo embarked on an EU-funded research project with nine other companies looking for a way to reduce the weight, size and cost of batteries in hybrid and electric cars.

The solution is what are referred to as “lightweight structural energy storage components,” which essentially combine batteries and super capacitors with carbon fiber and a polymer resin that sandwich the electric components – significantly reducing the space required for the batteries.

For testing, researchers built two such panels, a trunk lid and “plenum cover”, and equipped them on a Volvo S80 experimental car. The new panels can be charged either through brake energy regeneration or by plugging the car in.

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While the battery components add weight, the carbon fiber material reduces it and the new boot lid weighs less than a conventional unit.

The new “plenum cover” can not only replace the car’s start-stop battery but is structurally tough and can act as a replacement for a front strut bar, while weighing 50 percent less.

Volvo believes using the new material extensively on an electric car could result in a reduced vehicle weight of more than 15 percent.

In addition to the obvious weight benefits, extending the effectiveness of the battery to power the car over longer distances, the new battery-infused carbon fiber components both charge and store energy faster than conventional batteries.

GALLERY: Volvo Battery Body Panels


Discuss this story at our Volvo forum.

  • The Real Stig

    So what would happen if the car received a bit of a fender bender – would the whole battery fail, or is structural damage compensated somehow?

  • The Real Stig

    and how often would the “battery” need to be replaced?

  • Alex C

    Great idea. Any word on how well it functions after an impact? Knowing Volvo, I’m sure they’ve been testing it. Other than the cost, why not build the uni-body structure out of this material so it’s hidden and protected?

  • Yeah, pretty soon cars will be powered by a battery the size of a postage stamp! . . . there’s so much buzz around these crazy schemes and they rarely prove to be practical.

  • prius04

    These kinds of batteries rarely ever need to be replaced. They are designed to outlast the car. This is true of the Volt, the Prius and the Tesla and the Leaf. I’m willing to bet this would apply to this battery as well. In fact, auto companies are trying to come up with ideas on what to do with these batteries once the rest of the car is junk. The idea that is catching on is to bundle these old batteries with solar panels for off the grid use. The concept hasn’t started yet because so few of these cars have been junked up to now. Seems the cars have generally been overbuilt and tend to last longer than regular cars seeing as how they have so much fewer moving parts.

  • Eric To

    They could easily design it sorta like each individual panel is a battery, so when one fail, the rest would carry on, you will just have less capacity until you replace the broken panel. I’m sure this technology will just be an add-on to the existing battery model. For example, traditional EV could run 200km before it runs out of juice, using this technology on the chassis, maybe they can now go 300km.

  • suoko

    Take a look at latest Samsung ultrabooks

  • I met the GM engineers that designed the battery for the Volt, and they had secondary usage for the battery from the beginning – befor e the Volt even went to production. A 350Volt battery bank is ideal for residential solar power systems…