These Standardized Electric Car Battery Modules Save Money & Time

NOV 21 2018 BY MARK KANE 30

Standardization is key.

Swiss company ecovolta is introducing a new standardized lithium-ion battery module designed to make electric vehicle development easier, cheaper and quicker.

The standardized modules are certified for transport safety (including UN 38.3), don’t use active cooling and can be connected in packs up to 7,600 kWh (from 24 to over 800 V). The base 10 kWh / 48 V module weight is 50 kg, which translates to 200 Wh/kg.

According to ecovolta, manufacturers will be able to quickly configure prototype packs for test mule vehicles and significantly cut the time and expense needed to bring electric vehicles to the serial production stage.

Earlier this year, ecovolta launched a manufacturing facility in Schwyz, Switzerland capable of producing 200 MWh of batteries annually.

ecovolta 10 kWh evoTractionBattery:

  • 48 V DC / 200 Ah / 10 kWh
  • (L x W x H): 520 x 218 x 320 mm
  • Weight: 50kg
ecovolta  evoTractionBattery
5 photos
ecovolta  evoTractionBattery ecovolta  evoTractionBattery ecovolta  evoTractionBattery ecovolta evoTractionBattery Development

From press release:

Development costs for vehicle manufacturers are falling considerably

Previously, customised battery packs had to be developed for each individual vehicle model. The time taken up by this process created additional risks and meant that electric vehicle manufacture was only profitable with larger production runs. In contrast, ecovolta’s evoTractionBattery is already certified as a universal solution and can be quickly put to use.

“We estimate that vehicle manufacturers using a battery with an operating voltage of 48 volts and a capacity of 10 kilowatt hours (kWh), for example, will be able to save a total of 250,000 to 500,000 euros in development and certification costs,” says CTO Paul Hauser.

“And things can move a lot faster, too. Our customers are generally looking at a development time of up to 2 years for a battery pack and the accompanying battery management system. The evoTractionBattery, on the other hand, can be configured within a few hours, whether it’s being used in a golf cart or a lorry,” adds Hauser.

Standardisation and certification smooth the path to e-mobility

This standardisation cuts the costs per kilowatt hour of electricity stored, lowering the barriers to entry for companies looking to move into e-mobility. It covers aspects of the dimensions, capacity levels and electronics. Users of the evoTractionBattery receive fully documented certification for all battery packs, including the crucial UN 38.3 certification for transport safety.

The integrated battery management system enables master-slave operation as well as connection of the batteries to a CAN bus. This allows the batteries to exchange data with the higher-level control system, which is essential for safe and efficient vehicle operation. The safety technology, relay and precharging are also integrated.

The evoTractionBattery is available with a voltage of 24 volts, 48 volts and 400 volts as well as a capacity of 2.5 kWh to 15 kWh. Up to 16 batteries can be connected in series in any configuration, and up to 32 strings can be connected in parallel, allowing a battery voltage of between 24 and 829 volts and a total capacity of up to around 7,600 kWh.

Every individual battery module has a fixed length of 520 mm and a width of 218 mm, while the height depends on the voltage and capacity. This creates clear parameters for the vehicle design.

Source: ecovolta, Green Car Congress

Categories: Battery Tech

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30 Comments on "These Standardized Electric Car Battery Modules Save Money & Time"

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The 10 kWh / 48 V module may be perfect for off-grid solar as the charge rate is low enough that no cooling is required.
I don’t think the atcicle is correct in saying that the base module is 48V – sounds like it is 24V.
24 volt would be great for an electric trolling motor!
Please distribute to retailers and not just manufacturers!

48V*200Ah=10kWh roughly …. why do you think it’s 24V?

Sorry, I don’t buy it. Manufacturers need to customize the shape of the battery packs. And if these don’t include active cooling (which they don’t, according to the article) then nobody besides Nissan would dare use them.

Agree with David that manufacturers need to customize the shape of the packs. These packs (320mm tall!) are useless in building a skateboard style pack for a car unless it will have a really, really high floor. Maybe in a truck or a compliance vehicle, but in this day and age, these kind of solutions won’t be used in volume production.

I don’t think they said it’s for the EVs we have been talking about. Their press release does not mention “car”, its the article title that adds that.

They said “…whether it’s being used in a golf cart or a lorry…”

This looks very much to be a replacement for lead acid batteries and commercial use.

And I say bring it – I can make great use of these.

It takes years to CAD, develop, test, redesign, adjust, re-test, validate and then release a HV battery pack. Lets put a very loose and variable 2 year process on that. This means you’re locked down for 2 years without the ability to build the prototypes and test any other components. Whereas with a system like this you can get on with developing other components without needing the intended battery pack in situ.

It’s a genius idea. It could massively reduce the costs of one off investigation vehicles and it would allow the developers massive flexibility in testing new and different layouts. The fact it’s actually certified for road use is the icing on the cake.

It’s not a genius idea. It’s an obvious idea — and there are other battery makers offering such products. The way this PR presents it as some kind of novel ideal is ridiculous.

You’re misunderstanding the purpose of this. It’s not for production at all. The idea — and I’ve no idea if there’s enough electric conveyances(*) being developed for the business to make sense — is to allow a vendor without EV experience to design & prototype the vehicle without dealing with battery design or cooling, simply to get a prototype up and running ASAP. Once that’s done the vendor can focus on the production battery solution incl. TMS if needed.

(*) This isn’t just for cars… It’s also for everything that moves that needs a relatively large Li-Ion battery (go-karts, boats, golf karts, snowmobiles, lawnmowers) and potentially for battery-based portable appliances as well.

“don’t use active cooling” I think most new vehicles coming on the market would want active liquid cooling of the packs. Lower range cars like the Leaf 24/30 kinda got away with it due to the small battery size an owners having a realistic expectation of how far the range was but as you start to get to 40kWh batteries and above, people are expecting much more thermal cooling.

Also, the problem is compounded when you have a bigger battery on a long distance journey because you’re effectively changing smaller regular rapid charging stops into fewer bigger rapid charging stops which introduce more heat overall. That’s the reason why a Leaf 24/30 can complete a long distance journey quicker than a Leaf 40 (because the Leaf 40 suffers with rapid gate from it’s 2nd rapid charge).

Reading comprehension fail. NOT INTENDED FOR PRODUCTION, only for R&D departments working on initial prototypes.

Why can’t R&D departments then just use the existing 12V/24V liion batteries? Or large format cells? The whole idea seams like a solution looking for a problem.

What existing 12V/24V Li-Ion? There aren’t any with sufficient power or capacity for the target conveyances (think Golf cart at least), let alone standardized ones. There aren’t even any e-bicycle batteries less than 36V nowadays.
And large-format (presumably you mean pouch?) cells aren’t standardized at all — the whole point is to allow prototyping without needing to do battery development until the conveyance itself is working. Read the article.

Great for prototyping, but too big to use in a production vehicle. They’re over 8.5″ in the smallest dimension. Plus no cooling.

It’s only meant for prototyping. Did you read the article??

This might work in China or India where cheap small electric cars are made by relatively small companies that do not have the budget for big R&D program. Any large manufacturer will be most concerned with getting the latest high Whr/kg and liquid cooling. Battery companies have made the mistake before that lithium car batteries are a commodity item just like 12V lead-acid batteries. Not there yet. This requires a very mature technology where no further improvement is expected or required.

Where am I wrong with my math? If I take 200MWHr of annual manufacturing capacity, divide it by 50KWHr of capacity per car, then I get….

4,000 cars per year.

So what?

By the way, the shape of the battery does not fit under the floor of a car very well, as in a skateboard design.

Your math is fine… But you’re missing the point, as are many who commented.
This ISN’T intended for production cars. Think of a company considering a limited run of golf carts. This allows them to put off the battery design work and build a working prototype of the cart first, because they’d be using a known working and safe battery. Once that prototype works like they want it to in its other aspects, they can then get down to the deciding on the production battery solution form another source– NOT FROM THIS SWISS COMPANY.

So it’s not 4000 cars, but batteries for 5000-10000 development projects, most of which _won’t_ be passenger EVs. That sounds like a decent customer base for now.

I could see these being used in things like electric forklifts or other industrial equipment. Maybe not so much for passenger vehicles. It seems like most manufacturers already have packs designed. Given the lack of liquid cooling, I wonder how well they would work as renewable storage – e.g.: for home solar storage.

I wonder what the cost would be like.

Bang on. No cooling needed for solar – any battery based system (i.e. not grid-tied) has more kWh of batteries than peak kW of array output, therefore always <1 C charge rate, and typically in the 0.25C to 0.5C. My peak is 0.4C and my Chevy Volt modules don't even feel warm to the touch, let alone hot.

Yes, from the shape of this module, it looks far more suitable for home solar power backup than for use in an EV.

Plus, since there’s no cooling system, this appears to be unusable for a highway-capable vehicle. It might be okay for a low-speed vehicle such as a golf cart, milk float, or NEV.

Why is everyone complaining that these won’t work in a car? Nobody mentioned that. The very first sentence says “Swiss company ecovolta is introducing a new standardized lithium-ion battery module designed to make electric vehicle development easier, cheaper and quicker.”

The third paragraph goes “According to ecovolta, manufacturers will be able to quickly configure prototype packs for test mule vehicles and significantly cut the time and expense needed to bring electric vehicles to the serial production stage.”

How is that confusing enough to suggest these are intended for production vehicles? Why is everyone doubting when they haven’t even read the article properly?

I read the article.

I also realize that a test mule needs to be able to travel at highway speed, not just putter around in a parking lot. Even a test mule EV needs a battery pack cooling system.

I think putting “evoTractionBattery” on the side of this, in their publicity photo, is just marketing. It’s the wrong shape, and with no cooling system, this won’t do well as a traction battery, at least not for street-legal, highway-capable EVs.

There is a whole bunch of perfectly highway-capable EVs out there without active cooling. They just don’t last very long… Which is a concern for a production vehicle, but not for a test mule or prototype.

OTOH, I don’t read the PR as these being meant *only* for development…

Huh? It’s absolutely clear this is just a development solution. The entire PR is focused on it, and on the savings they (they claim) it can provide an R&D effort. It will also clearly be quite expensive, being made in Switzerland, and already certified (the reason why it’s attractive for development: A battery with fully documented behavior, known working, and safe.)
In the silicon chip industry, a chip vendor always provides customers with a development printed-circuit board, to help them make prototype products; it also comes with software to analyze behavior & program parameters, and do testing. This is exactly the same idea.

100% agree with your comment Dave100e. I was getting irritated at the number of comments like “this wont work in an EV because …”. Put a pair at each seat location except drivers, 2 in trunk, 2 under hood and you have a TEST MULE. (not to be confused with real mules, their legs are too long)

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Actually, the headline says “cars”. (Unlike the PR.) Can’t really blame readers for a misleading article…

While I agree that the PR doesn’t mention cars, I also think your interpretation that these are only for prototyping is wrong. AIUI the idea is avoiding custom pack development altogether, which means using them in production. 200 MWh per year production capacity doesn’t suggest they only intend to sell a handful each to a few developers…

Looking at their website they are about 12 1/2 pounds per usable kWh…just like Zero motorcycle packs. Not surprising as both are NMC pouch cells, packed in a tight case with a BMS. The Zero packs run about $1000 per kWh. I shudder to think what the Swiss charge.

It makes sense on commercial trucks which are sold in a smaller scale (thus benefiting more from off-the-shelf solutions) and don’t need to save much space. Also trucks need a big pack for a whole day of work non stop, specially the city delivery ones, thus their battery usage will be spread out more evenly over the day allowing air cooling to be more efficient, compared to a passenger car discharging the battery quickly in a highway trip. For passenger cars the technology must evolve a bit to make these modules a bit more compact and easy to spread out in tighter spaces.

This approach will never work well in the constraints of passenger EVs. You need a more flexible solution for that — like Kreisel’s small modules that can be assembled into custom pack designs.

This seems to be an innovative method, by arranging more stacks, it can be expanded to different types of vehicles like cars, crossovers, buses, trucks and other heavy vehicles.

Being in prismatic shape, multiple batteries can be placed next to the other without loss of space.