By Tuan Nguyen
Posting in Energy
A company reportedly squeezed 375 miles out of a modified electric battery-powered Audi A2.
Whenever a little-known company suddenly announces they've developed a potentially revolutionary technology that's way more advanced than anything else out there, skeptics are going to be, well, even more skeptical.
This is the currently the case in the ongoing saga involving the German tech firm DBM Energy. While it's not like they've figured out a way to enable cars to fly (although there's a company trying to do that too), the company did claim to have produced a battery that allows electric vehicles to go 400 miles on a single charge, which, by the way, would be a world record.
Currently, the in-house produced battery for Tesla's Roadster offers a range of 245 miles, the longest range of any electric vehicle in production.
For good measure, DBM says that their Kolibri alpha-polymer battery also happens to be two-thirds the weight of Tesla's battery pack, costs as little as $1,100 dollars to manufacture and features enough charge cycles to last a decade. And, get this, it can be recharged in mere minutes.
These claims were initially made back in October after the company reportedly squeezed 375 miles out of a Kolibri-powered Audi A2 during a trip from Munich to Berlin. The vehicle, which averaged an impressive 55 miles per hour while only using up 80 percent of the battery's energy capacity, was also put through a battery (pun intended) of third-party performance tests to verify the results.
But then, things got a little hairy. Jim Motavalli over at our sister site BNET breaks down what transpired afterward that have led some to cast doubt over the company's claims.
DBM probably did make that record run, but the details (how many people aboard, for instance) are important. It takes a really rigorous process to ensure that all the useful data is recorded. It’s also unclear if the DBM team was under observation at all times, though witnesses are claimed.
But the company has been a slippery eel on validation. DBM Energy’s battery work is supported by the German economics ministry (with $370,000 in funding), but before any official testing on the miracle pack could be done… disaster struck! In December the car that had reportedly made that history-making run burned up mysteriously in a warehouse fire. A dog ate the homework, in other words.
DBM said it would stage a second record-setting run in February, but then it got really cold at the test track, the test was postponed, and so was a planned showing of a DBM car at a German electronics show in March. At this point, anyone could see parallels to the exaggerated claims made by Texas-based EEStor, which said in 2008 that its ultra-capacitors had three times the energy density of lithium-ion batteries at much reduced cost, and would power an EV with 250 miles of range. But it delivered… nothing at all.
And then April 1 (April Fool’s Day, of course), DBM claimed it had passed rigorous tests at the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing “with flying colors.” But those tests were mostly about safety issues — the batteries didn’t catch fire, leak, or “decompose.” Still pretty inconclusive, and performance tests (not on the road, but on a dynometer) at the DEKRA certification agency didn’t entirely clear things up, either. They were done on a smaller 62.9 kilowatt-hour pack for some unexplained reason, and they yielded 284.5 mile range. Extrapolated, that means 443 miles for the larger pack tested earlier.
Vindication? Not yet. DBM claims a “worldwide record” in its Munich to Berlin run, but it better be ready to replicate it — over and over again.
Beyond the dubiousness of the accounts, other questions remain. For instance, it's reported that the battery in question is a 98 kilowatt-hour pack. So even if the company's results hold up, are they that impressive when you take in account that Tesla's Roadster already gets a 245 mile range from a lower capacity 56 kilowatt-hour battery pack? What might possibly make the battery a game-changer, though, is if it can live up to at least some of its other claims.
Here's a video about the battery from DBM that's best viewed if you understand German:
- Recharge an electric car without plugging in
- Electric car batteries can now power home appliances
- New electric car may signal the end of the road for gas guzzlers
- Supercomputer helps turn big-rigs into energy efficient ‘SmartTrucks’
- New engine radically improves fuel economy, cuts emissions
- New 9-speed auto transmission also a gas saver
Apr 14, 2011
Thought for all of you. What if: Chevy Volt = 39,000 Minus all gas parts (probably 10,000) = 29,000 Minus an instant tax credit (10,000) = 19,000 Minus a rebate if your lucky (1,500) = 17,500 I called Chevy, and Nissan. Both said absolutely not. So what's point of making these to free us from gas, and were getting electric for an unaffordable price. Wouldn't we want to have an affordable vehicle and be free from gas? Avery,
I'll believe it when I see it, otherwise it's all claptrap. And I want to see how much of that 400 miles can be done in Texas in the 107 deg. F Summer with the air conditioning on high, otherwise the claims are no more than "hot air". That is one point the purveyors of electrics always hide, the comfort penalty, and if the vhicle has a/c, they never disclose the BTU rating of it because people would then see that it is very small system. For those in cool climates, the same thing applies to the heater, but it can be supplimented by vehicle waste heat so it is less of an issue. For these reasons, which really relate to the usefulness and desirability of a vehicle, I hope the new battery works as claimed.
What about recharge time? I am disappointed by articles that simply regurgitate headlines from elsewhere. How about some real journalism for a change?
i hope this is real. These Gas prices are ruining this economy for the poor or average worker. President O'bama enjoy the rest of your term. You will not win again. None of your plans are working. 14 Trillion deficit it's hard to swallow. We the working class can't make it anymore. Palin don't waste your time. Hillary Clinton have a better chance.
Toyota added a small, integrated roof top solar panel as an option to the Prius just to power cooling fans because of concern over the impact of accessories on range.
Whats the range when you have your ligthts,radio, wipers and heater on? Bet it changes significantly. They got HOMEWORK. to do before blab`n off, u think???
-- other questions remain. For instance, it?s reported that the battery in question is a 98 kilowatt-hour pack. So even if the company?s results hold up, are they that impressive when you take in account that Tesla?s Roadster already gets a 245 mile range from a lower capacity 56 kilowatt-hour battery pack? -- You sound upset that they packed more energy into a lighter battery than Tesla. If you put the 98 kwh pack into the Tesla you will probably see comparable range performance. Any improvement or drop in range would have to do with the car design.
You might want to fix this: "Currently, the in-house produced battery for Tesla?s Roadster offers a range of 245 miles per hour."
If you drive long distances, an electric car might not suit your needs, so you will need to consider how far you plan on driving your car. Most of the electric cars have limits on how many miles they can go before needing a recharge unlike a truck parts. Electric car maker ZAP recently announced that their electric car could travel up to 100 miles per single charge, but many people drive more miles than that round trip on a daily commute to work.