By 2025, 10% of all vehicles on the road are expected to be battery-powered, compared to less than 2% today.* With this explosive growth, the pressure is on to bring battery manufacturing equipment to market quickly. However, battery manufacturers beware: don’t cut corners using low-performance equipment if you know what’s good for you.
EVs are really only as good as the batteries that power them. ADI has been shouting from the rooftops that battery formation and testing (BFT) is the most critical stage in battery production, and where manufacturers should begin their quest to feed the soon-to-be insatiable appetite of the EV market.
Investing in BFT is investing in your brand
We all know the average cost of an EV can be eye-popping, as a mid-range Tesla will set you back about $60K. But did you know, up to 40% of an EV’s overall cost is from the battery? Plus, the battery finishing stage alone can account for as much as 20% of the battery’s cost. Yikes! The biggest aspect of an EV, really is the E!
Why are batteries so costly? Again, you get out of them what you put into them. The ol’ adage garbage in, garbage out (family-friendly version!) applies here. The BFT process alone can be a painstakingly slow process involving multiple charges and discharges to activate a battery’s chemistry (possibly up to two full days to complete). But it’s absolutely necessary to prepare the battery for the rigors of daily use, and ensure its reliability and quality.
Battery manufacturers are wise to understand the effect that investing in BFT can have on their overall brand success. As history has shown, it takes years to build up a brand, and an instant (like one lousy performing battery) to tear it down.
All together now: a holistic approach to BFT
To decrease the sticker shock of batteries, manufacturers should take a holistic, “ecosystem-wide” approach and leverage system-level expertise to reduce the overall battery test circuit footprint while increasing the number of channels. It’s important to note that both must be done while maintaining the accuracy, precision, reliability, and speed of their battery formation and test measurements to ensure safety, performance, and reliability requirements are met.
This isn’t exactly an easy task. Battery formation and test requires close monitoring of current and voltage profiles used during power cycling to prevent overcharging and undercharging cells. This ensures safety during testing, while also maximizing battery longevity, which greatly lowers overall cost of ownership for the end user.
What’s more, manufacturers should leverage system-level expertise, beyond mere sophisticated components and building blocks. When they work with ADI, they can access reference designs for system architectures that can be more easily adopted and get to market 3-4X faster than if they were to try to develop a BFT system on their own.
It’s also important to know that high precision at a system level during BFT enables power architectures that allow for energy recycling across multiple cells. Thus, manufacturers can create previously unobtainable efficiencies, expand throughput, and ultimately reduce waste/increase cost savings and make battery production more cost-effective.
So while the average EV battery may last anywhere from 10-20 years, it’s those batteries that have gone through the rigors of precision BFT that you’re more likely to see tooling around in 2040, rather than their lesser-tested rivals.
* David Keohane and Peter Campbell. “Valeo Doubles Forecast for Electric Car Sales.” Financial Times, February 2018.