|Image from MotorTrend|
By using composite materials, they are examining the possibility of putting the battery into the body of the car. The fun image they have at MotorTrend shows how much of the body would be taken up.
The composite material consists of carbon fiber and polymer resin. The material is capable of storing great amounts of electric energy (enough to allow the car to travel up to 81 miles of all electric power (the Leaf goes 100 miles, while the upcoming Volt gets 40 miles of all electric range. It's also supposed to recharge faster than a conventional battery.
Another advantage is by turning the battery pack into the body of the car, you can distribute the weight. And the composite material is lighter than conventional building materials, reducing weight by as much as 15 percent.
The questions I'm left with is what if you're in an accident? I can't imagine the body panels would be cheap to replace. Also, what about scratches, dings, or outright dents? Will that impact the cars ability to recharge or retain its charge?
The other partners in this project include the Imperial College London, Advanced Composites Group, Bundesanstalt Fur Material forschung undprufung, Chalmers, ETC Battery, Fuel Cells Sweden, INASCO Hella, Nanocyl, and Swerea SICOMP. The European Union jump-started the endeavor with 35 million Swedish krona ($5.2 million).