Whether they’re designed for economy or hypercar performance, electric vehicles and hybrids are the biggest thing in motoring right now. They’re able to deliver excellent low-end torque and performance, they’re reliable, and most importantly, they don’t directly pollute.
The biggest criticism of EVs currently (other than cost) is their paltry driving range. Most pure electrics have a range less than 120 miles, making them effectively useless for people with long commutes or who live in scattered markets like Australia, Canada, and even parts of the United States.
Volkswagen Group’s Head of Powertrain Development, Dr. Heinz-Jakob Neusser, recently told Motoring that although plug-in hybrids are an effective “bridging technology,” the future of efficient motoring lies with the improvement of battery systems.
“Battery [technology] makes the biggest steps in very short time frames,” Neusser said. “If you look at when we started with the e-mobility of the Golf, and you look now to the Passat, we have done the first step.”
“We have much more energy density in the batteries [than before],” he continued, “and in 2015-2016 will come the next step, which means we come from 25 to 28 amp hours density (Ah) to 36-37 Ah. Now, we are actually working on the next step to around 60 Ah.”
For those lacking electronics savvy, Neusser helped put those numbers in context.
“I expect the next generation in 2015-2017 will increase to around 300 km (186 miles),” he said, “and the following step will be around 500-600 km (310-372 miles).”
Neusser emphasizes that has power levels increase, the charging infrastructure of the market will need to change with it. One encouraging bit of news comes from California, where lawmakers are proposing an addendum to the state building code that requires basic EV charging architecture to be present in new construction parking lots and homes.