21 September 2011
TROY, Mich.–Weight is not everything in automotive design, but it’s close.
The Chevy Volt weighs 3,700 pounds unloaded. More than 11 percent of that weight is the lithium-ion battery itself, even so, the battery is 70 percent lighter than the one GM deployed in the EV-1. Yet unlike gas-powered vehicles, which lose weight as the car burns up its fuel supply, EVs don’t enjoy that dynamic with their batteries. Figuring out weight savings, therefore, is even more important than designs for traditional cars.
In the concept stage for the Volt, GM engineers used materials from GM Automotive Plastics to trim weight by 50 percent. No spare tire? Save space and weight. And so on.
What about connectors and cabling?
A key advantage of high voltage systems in electric vehicles is weight savings, according to Adam Tyler, development engineer, with TE Connectivity here. Higher voltage means less current, which means lighter gauge cabling, which means a lighter car, which translates into longer range.