Want proof how fast things are changing in the world of electric cars? Look no further than the Audi R8 E-Tron battery. When the car was first introduced in 2010, it had a 49 kWh battery and about 130 miles of range. That was considered outstanding at the time, but since then, Tesla Motors has brought its Model S to market. That car features up to an 85 kWh battery and as much as 265 miles of range, making the R8 E-Tron look pretty ordinary by comparison.
Now Audi has unwrapped a completely new battery for its latest E-Tron. It boasts 90.2 kWh of power and a range closer to 280 miles. Energy density for the new battery has almost doubled from 84 watt-hours per kilogram to 152 watt-hours per kilogram. Yet the whole thing fits in exactly the same space at the battery from 2010. How is such a thing possible?
The secret is in the cells. Audi has figured out how to make much more powerful individual cells, then packed 7,488 of them into 52 modules of 144 cells each. Each module weighs 17 lb. In all, the new battery has over 10,000 parts and weighs 1,312 lbs. Positioned partially between the seat and partially behind them, the car ends up with 40/60 weight distrigution – about what it would be if it was a mid engine gasoline powered car.
But that’s only part of the good news about the new battery. Lots of power is useless if it takes forever to recharge the battery once it is depleted of energy. Using a Combo 2 AC charger, it takes 12 hours to replenish the battery. But if a DC fast charger pushing 50 kilowatts of juice into all those cells is used, the job is complete in just 95 minutes.
Audi has thoughtfully engineered the car’s charging system to accept inputs all the way up to 150 kilowatts, which is more than any Tesla SuperCharger is capable of at the moment. With that set up, an R8 E-Tron driver can power up for more than 90 miles of driving in just 15 minutes.
The world of electric car batteries has indeed changed radically in just over 4 years. Just imagine where the technology will be by the time 2020 rolls around.