Lithium-ion systems are emerging as automakers' favorite battery technology for electric vehicles, according to French battery maker Saft.
In tests sponsored by the European Union in Stuttgart, Chrysler Voyager EPIC minivans with 45 Saft lithium-ion battery modules on board traveled 124 miles before recharging was required.
The EPIC, or Electric Powered Interurban Commuter, is a Voyager with a special chassis for batteries and electric motor.
Meanwhile, in Turin, Italy, Fiat Seicento Elettra minis with 20 Saft battery modules had a range of 87 miles.
A combination of battery cell design and systems integration improves vehicle performance substantially, Saft Automotive Communications Manager Catherine Jouatel told an international electric vehicle symposium in Berlin last month.
Saft already has started small-scale industrial production of high-energy lithium-ion batteries for pure electric cars and hybrids.
"With their reduced weight and volume, Saft's lithium-ion cells represent a major breakthrough," Jouatel said. "Lithium-ion technology is the longer-term solution for electric vehicles and hybrids too."
Saft worked with DaimlerChrysler and Fiat Auto S.p.A. on electronics compatibility and battery integration. "Results have been very encouraging, particularly in the crucial area of vehicle range - up to 124 miles in the urban cycle," Jouatel said.