Electric Vehicles: Batteries

Department for Transport written question – answered on 8th October 2019.

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Photo of John Spellar John Spellar Labour, Warley

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment his Department has made of the effect on electric vehicle battery range of (a) low or high temperatures and (b) the use of in-car heating or air conditioning.

Photo of George Freeman George Freeman Minister of State (Department for Transport)

Really low and really high temperatures can impact an electric vehicle’s battery range. Currently, the operating temperatures for electric vehicle battery cells are -20°C to +60°C. Vehicle manufacturers compensate for this at pack level through pre-conditioning as well as heating and cooling systems, the drawback being that these draw energy. Applications in aerospace and defence have even more challenging operating temperatures. The Government has committed £274m to the Industrial Strategy’s Faraday Battery Challenge which includes understanding the effects of temperature further. The Challenge is supporting battery R&D from the Faraday Institution’s academic research through Innovate UK’s programme of collaborative R&D and to scale-up in the cutting-edge UK Battery Industrialisation Centre. One of the aims of the Faraday programme is to improve the operating range of battery cells, including to -40°C to +80°C by 2035 therefore enabling better performance and efficiency at higher and lower ambient temperatures.

Thermal loads from heating, ventilation and air-conditioning affect the battery range of electrical vehicles and is most critical for vehicles like refrigerated trucks. The Office for Low Emission Vehicle’s Integrated Delivery Programme is funding R&D projects aiming to maximise the efficiency of the electric powertrain and significantly extend an electric vehicle’s range further.

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