New research suggests that the price of the new generation of battery packs is much lower than previously thought, leaving more consumers without the choice.
The new research, which looked at batteries and cars, suggests that new batteries offer consumers better value, while some batteries have been used for years.
“It’s the cheapest battery in a car,” says Dr Nicky Horsley, from the University of Sheffield, and co-author of the research.
“And it’s probably cheaper than you’d think.”
It is not just the cost that matters.
For the research, Horsleys team compared the cost of different battery materials.
Battery makers claim the new materials have lower cost per watt, which is why they have been given high marks for their performance.
But the research found that cost was not the only factor to be considered.
The researchers used a range of battery materials, including nickel cadmium, lithium cadmum and lithium zinc.
One of the most important factors to consider is the material.
“It has to be a good conductor, and that has to happen at high temperatures,” says Horskins team leader, Dr Andrew Taylor.
Lithium zinc has a higher thermal conductivity than nickel cad.
So while nickel cad has a lower cost, it is also more likely to cause damage.
Another issue is weight.
“In terms of weight, you’re talking about a whole bunch of metals that have to be arranged in a very specific way,” Dr Taylor explains.
This could be particularly important if you have a car with a low centre of gravity.
“The more weight there is, the more resistance there is in the system,” Dr Horsons research shows.
“There’s a limit to how much resistance you can have, and how much weight you can put on it, so that makes it much more expensive.”
“In a lot of cases the cost is the most significant factor”Another issue that Horssey’s team discovered was that many new batteries did not use a metal that is commonly found in electric vehicles.
“Some of the materials in the new batteries, they were not using nickel cad, which we don’t use in electric cars, and they didn’t use lithium zinc, which many cars use,” says Taylor.
“So there were some materials that were really expensive.”
Another problem with the research is that battery manufacturers did not provide a breakdown of how much battery power was needed in a vehicle.
Instead, they simply said that the batteries were “good for a very low cost” and that the manufacturers had not done enough research to show that they were reliable.
There is one major difference between these two battery types, however.
New battery manufacturers claim that their batteries are much safer than older battery technologies.
In order to test this claim, Hensley and her team have now done a thorough investigation of battery safety in the UK.
“We’ve done the research to see if these claims are true, and we’ve found that they are,” says the co-lead author, Dr Taylor.
But is it true?
The UK government is now working with the manufacturers of batteries to improve the technology, and some manufacturers have been quick to acknowledge that their products have been tested in laboratories.
“This is very important because these batteries have the potential to be very safe and the UK government should be looking to the manufacturers for their research,” Dr Glyn Smith, from battery supplier Li-ion, told the BBC.
“Because it’s very hard to get the UK Government to fund research into battery safety.”