This is how your next electric Volvo will charge 30% faster

Volvo has announced a significant charging improvement for cars built on its next-gen EV platform. Their batteries will charge up to 30% faster than the current line-up, and it has nothing to do with revolutionary chemistries or a different manufacturing approach. The secret weapon is an algorithm.

Volvo Cars is investing in Breathe Battery Technologies, a spin-off from Imperial College London, and is granted access to their latest software developments in return.

These researchers have developed a dynamic software innovation that can slash fast charging time by one-third over the cells’ lifetime without compromising battery health.

However, this performance is the maximum achievement, as Volvo notes in a disclaimer that the benefit ranges from 15 to 30%, depending on the size of the battery.

Dynamic charging

Batteries from current-generation EVs follow a procedure of stepped charging, which relies on predetermined rules. However, the software from Breathe Battery switches to adaptive charging, controlling the charging current every time. Adaptive charging intensifies its efforts on a new and capable battery, then dynamically adjusts as it ages to preserve its health. As such, it results in more range per minute.

The technology also mitigates the risk of lithium plating, or lithium deposits forming on the anode side, which can lead to capacity loss and safety concerns.

Breathe Battery was founded in 2019 when researchers noticed a flaw in research and development being invested in battery life and charging performance. Volvo hasn’t communicated the size of the funds invested. Still, it has injected them as budget through its venture capital arm, Volvo Cars Tech Fund, which also supports AI and autonomous driving projects.

Ann-Sofie Ekberg, CEO of the Volvo Cars Tech Fund, emphasized the importance of faster charging times in making electric mobility more accessible and appealing to a broader audience. “Faster charging times represent a major step in the right direction as we continue to boost electric mobility and make it available to more people,” Ekberg stated.

More than one horse

The compatibility of Breathe’s software with Volvo’s new-generation BEVs ensures that scaling this technology will be straightforward, avoiding the need for design changes to the battery pack or additional material mining. This compatibility is crucial as Volvo anticipates a significant increase in electric vehicle sales as it maintains its target of going all-electric by 2030.

However, Volvo bets on more than one horse to improve charging times. The company also invests in the battery start-up Storedot for solid-state solutions, promising to charge six times faster than the current lithium-ion family. But scaling of that technology won’t happen before the decade’s end.


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