An electric vehicle battery (EVB) or traction battery can be either a primary (e.g. metal-air) battery or a secondary battery rechargeable battery used for propulsion of battery electric vehicles (BEVs). Traction batteries are used in forklifts, electric Golf carts, riding floor scrubbers, electric motorcycles, full-size electric cars, trucks, and vans, and other electric vehicles.
Electric vehicle batteries differ from starting, lighting, and ignition (SLI) batteries because they are designed to give power over sustained periods of time. Deep cycle batteries are used instead of SLI batteries for these applications. Traction batteries must be designed with a high ampere-hour capacity. Batteries for electric vehicles are characterized by their relatively high power-to-weight ratio, energy to weight ratio and energy density; smaller, lighter batteries reduce the weight of the vehicle and improve its performance. Compared to liquid fuels, most current battery technologies have much lower specific energy; and this often impacts the maximum all-electric range of the vehicles. However, metal-air batteries have high specific energy because the cathode is provided by the surrounding oxygen in the air.
Rechargeable batteries are usually the most expensive component of BEVs, being about half the retail cost of the car. The cost of battery manufacture is substantial, but increasing returns to scale lower costs. Since the late 1990s, advances in battery technologies have been driven by demand for laptop computers and mobile phones, with consumer demand for more features, larger, brighter displays, and longer battery time driving research and development in the field. The BEV marketplace has reaped the benefits of these advances, but costs remain too high and, along with limited range, provide a key barrier to the use of rechargeable batteries in electric vehicles.
Rechargeable traction batteries are routinely used all day, and fast–charged all night. Forklifts, for instance, are usually discharged and recharged every 24 hours of the work week.
The predicted market for automobile traction batteries is over $37 billion in 2020.
On an energy basis, the price of electricity to run an EV is a small fraction of the cost of liquid fuel needed to produce an equivalent amount of energy (energy efficiency). The cost of replacing the batteries dominates the operating costs.
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