When it comes to the new generation of vehicles on the road, it’s the one with the biggest battery pack.
But what do you do with that extra juice?
And what about that battery life?
The answer is, you need to change your mind.
“We can’t just have an electric car and a plug-in hybrid,” says Dr Andrew Trenholm, from the University of Sydney’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.
“You have to look at the whole equation.”
Trenholm is leading a study into what happens when a car’s battery gets bigger.
He’s teamed up with Dr Peter Gee, an expert in vehicle design at the University and Australian National University.
Their goal is to understand how the battery can handle the demands of the car, what’s going on in the combustion chamber and the way a car might respond to various situations.
“We need to understand the combustion process and how it works to understand whether we can safely reduce the battery pack size,” Trenholms says.
Tranholm and Gee have conducted their own battery studies in their own cars and vehicles, and they’ve concluded that if a vehicle can use a larger battery pack, it can use that battery more efficiently.
They’re trying to find out if a battery pack should be as large as possible, with the goal of using the battery size to optimise the performance of a vehicle.
In their first trial, they drove around Sydney, Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.
At one point, they took a range of roads and made a point of stopping every 30 kilometres or so to recharge the batteries.
To their surprise, the average time the battery had to re-charge was about three minutes.
And it was not just about driving.
The study also found that, while the battery did not make the vehicle more aerodynamic, it also made it feel a lot quieter, which was good.
When they tested the cars in their laboratory, the difference in noise level between the cars with the larger battery and the smaller one was about 2 decibels.
That’s a lot louder than a car on a normal road.
So the researchers have been looking at the sound of a battery in real-world conditions, and have concluded that a larger pack has a bigger impact on the noise levels.
In their next trial, Trenham and Gue are hoping to test their theory on a much larger scale.
The researchers want to test how much noise can be squeezed out of the battery by the combination of the engine and the tyres.
The researchers will use a Nissan 370Z, a popular car in Australia, as an example.
They’re planning to test it out on Sydney Harbour, with one of the Nissan’s four electric motors running a generator and another running the rear axle.
The battery will have to charge the generator using a rechargeable lithium ion battery, but they hope to find a way to squeeze out as much power as possible from the battery.
That means the car would need to be fitted with a special charger to make it run as fast as it can.
It’s an exciting time for the electric car industry.
This study was supported by a grant from the Australian Government, the Australian National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy and Climate Change.