Samsung SDI and Ford have just announced that they will work together on a new car battery technology that uses both Lithium-Ion and Lead-Acid to prolong the life of the classic Lead-Acid battery in cars use start-stop engines. Such Engines are designed to save fuel by stopping the engine more often, but the drawback is that the Lead-Acid battery is then taxed more than on a conventional car that let the engine run at all times.
By adding a rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery to start the car, the life span of the Lead-Acid battery on start-stop engines can be extended. Ford and Samsung say that this new battery design is ultra-lightweight, although this needs to be taken with some perspective because we are talking about something that weighs around 10 lbs. That said, Ford points out that the new design is still 40% lighter than conventional batteries that use Nickel Metal.
Consumer electronics have long gone away from Nickel-based batteries, but with the exception of newer electric vehicles, the auto industry is still mostly relying on older battery technology for cost and scale reasons. Lithium is a relatively rare and expensive element, and it would be difficult to switch rapidly, or to even justify switching over since the classic batteries do their jobs.
However, with gasoline prices rising and with technological advances such as this one, the equation is constantly changing and this is a case where a switch could be warranted. Ford says that it expending its Auto Start Stop technology to 70% of its product line-up, so the improvements brought by this new technology should scale quickly across Ford’s business.
Ford envisions a near future where Lithium-Ion will completely replace Lead-Acid batteries, bringing a lighter form factor and higher longevity to the battery design, while at the same time enabling car manufacturer to shut down engines when they are not required to move the car, to reduce gas consumption and CO2 emissions.
At the same time, Ford has disclosed a Lightweight Concept Car which is built only with high-tech materials like high-strength steel, magnesium and carbon-fiber. The company say that such a design reduces the car’s weight by 30% (compared to a 2013 Ford Fusion). Basically most of the interior is made with carbon fiber, while aluminum is used as much as possible to replace steel for parts that support weight and pressure. Interestingly, the rear window is made out of Polycarbonate, which is lighter than Glass.