The battle for better battery technology is far from over, and one of the central challenges now is to achieve manufacturing consistency. "When you have 120 cells, each has to perform to the required level," said Neville Jackson, Group Technology Director of Ricardo. "If one goes down, it could ruin the pack. But at present, battery manufacturers struggle to get repeatable, consistent performance and quality in a volume product suitable to power electric cars."
Jackson said the problem centers on detail differences between batteries, how they are manufactured, and the chemistries involved. "There is a struggle to get repeatable, consistent performance and quality in volume production. To achieve that consistency requires large investment—and that leads to a more expensive product," he said.
The challenge of electric cars is one of the areas being tackled at Ricardo’s newly established Battery Systems Development Center in Detroit and at the Sir Harry Ricardo Innovation & Sustainable Transport Centre, Shoreham Technical Centre, U.K., the latter of which is part of a $9 million investment by the company in the R&D of clean, sustainable transport and associated technologies. Globally, Ricardo is investing more than $40 million in a rolling three-year program at its international technical centers.
The Center is the focal point of Ricardo’s design, analysis, simulation, and integration of advanced high-power battery packs and their electronic management systems. Combined with the company’s expertise in the development of electronic controls, hybrid transmissions, and vehicle systems, it gives Ricardo the capability of providing fully integrated, turnkey battery systems, the company says.
But despite possible battery and electric-vehicle technology advances, Group Technology Director