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News Flash: German Electric Vehicle sets every-day driving record of 372 miles

It's been interesting to observe how news of a EV from Germany has slowly spread across the ocean. Recently, according to a Deutsche Welle article, a modified Audi A2 which is all-electric, successfully completed 372 mile journey from Munich to Berlin on a single electric charge.

This is very significant because the range of electric vehicles has always been the Achilles heals of the technology. Electric vehicles in the past have been limited by the low energy densities of the battery making EVs of the past very heavy and limiting their range to about 60 miles. The upcoming Nissan Leaf which will rely on a compact Lithium Ion battery can reach distances of 62-138 miles depending on the driving style. Although a significant improvement good enough to satisfy the needs of 80% of US drivers, the range is still significantly shorter than what a typical car using the combustion engine can do (about 300-400 miles). The Audi A2 is the first vehicle that can produce these ranges under relatively normal driving conditions.

How did it manage to produce these ranges?

Details are still sparse. But two factors should be noted.

On the one hand, the Audi A2 is a rather compact car. Compact sizes cut down on weight and hence energy required to propel the vehicle.

The other factor is of course the battery technology. According to UPI, the battery manufacturer (DBM Energy), uses a technology they call "KOLIBRI AlphaPolymer Technology". DBM Energy notes on their website that although the battery uses lithium, the battery is not a lithium ion battery in a traditional sense: there is no danger of leaking liquids, toxic gases or explosions associated with lithium ion batteries. Instead, DBM energy states that their lithium polymer technology is a solid-state battery in which layers of a proprietary membrane and a special electrolyte mixture combine to produce leap-frogging energy density gains. The result: smaller, lighter batteries for a given energy requirement, fast recharge (as little as 6 minutes) using a regular power chord.

On a personal note...

As of late, there has been some discussion about the potential of German solar energy to overload the German grid. I am skeptical as to the powers that might have caused the stir up of this debate. However, this debate highlights an important point. Renewable energies by nature can be sporadic. If countries around the world would like to rely more on renewable energies, it becomes more important to store energy when it is produced in excess to tap into when energy demand outpaces production. I think this technology is quite exciting because battery technologies from DBM and other companies could also be applied to these challenges.

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