Tesla Battery-Infused Carbon Fiber Body Panels?

The next generation of Teslas could see battery-infused carbon fiber body panels.

Tesla Motors and Panasonic could be employing nanotechnology to increase battery power density, reduce recharge times, and increase battery shelf life on the next generation of Tesla vehicles, but one challenge it will continue to face is determining a means to efficiently scale energy storage while keeping weight to a minimum.

A recent unveiling by Swedish auto manufacturer, Volvo, provides a glimpse of what just may be the solution to bringing forth a lightweight and extended range electric vehicle. Volvo has spent the last few years on various electric vehicle projects, one of which they replaced the traditional steel body panels with carbon fiber composite panels infused with nano-batteries and supercapacitors.

Tesla Battery-Infused Carbon Fiber Body Panels

Image Source: Volvo.com

In their experiment, Volvo replaced the hood, door panels and trunk lid on a S80 (curb weight: 3,700+ lbs) with rechargeable carbon fiber panels.  Each of the carbon fiber composite panels were infused with flexible supercapacitors capable of harnessing the energy generated through regenerative braking, and discharge back into the electric motor when needed.

The combined energy that the battery panels were able to store translated to a range of nearly 80 miles (130 km) and a 15%+ weight reduction assuming a portion of the structural components were to also be replaced with this new material. If we were to apply these same metrics to a hypothetical 85kWh Model S* with proprietary Tesla battery-infused carbon fiber body panels and sub assemblies, the end result would be a vehicle with roughly a 30% increase in range and a curb weight far below the beefy 4600+lbs.

* Tesla Model S Curb weight: 3949 lbs Range: 345 milesHorsepower: 488 hp

Editor’s note: Numbers are purely speculative and based on many assumptions.  Horsepower measurement is derived from Original Curb Weight / New Weight-to-Power Ratio

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Tesla Battery-Infused Carbon Fiber Body Panels

Carbon fiber can provide the strength of steel

Tesla Battery-Infused Carbon Fiber Body Panels

Energy storage infused between layers of carbon fiber

Tesla Battery-Infused Carbon Fiber Body Panels

Batteries using nanotechnology infused between layers of carbon fiber

Tesla Battery-Infused Carbon Fiber Body Panels

Carbon fiber door infused with super capacitors

Battery-Infused Carbon Fiber Body Panels

Image Source: Volvo.com

Although the bearing strength by weight of carbon fiber composites can be significantly stronger than aluminum and steel, it’s also much more brittle and provides little value in terms of energy assumption. Manufacturing quality carbon fiber goods continues to be a labor intensive and time-consuming process, thus driving price points that’s generally outside the realm of most consumers.

 

 



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Author: Teslarati Network

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  • Joel Sapp

    It’s interesting and worth investigating. Essentially tesla did a lesser form of this by integrating the batteries into the frame. I’d be worried about it in terms of just the normal nicks and dings that a car gets normally and losing a percentage of charging because of it. Maybe they could go for a fiberglass or kevlar version of this which would cost a whole lot less.
    Unless putting batteries on the floor pan turns out to be very dangerous, I like the concept of keeping all that weight down low as well.