TRAVERSE CITY CONFERENCE: Flat batteries are making EV engineering easier

August 1, 2018 06:01 CET

TRAVERSE CITY — Chocolate bar. Pancake. Skateboard.

Whatever companies and engineers call them, flat battery packs are improving the flexibility and range of vehicle types for emerging all-electric vehicle platforms, according to Matt Renna, Volkswagen Group of America vice president of e-Mobility.

“What’s really cool about this construction is you have, as an automaker, on a single platform the ability to stretch and shape this thing around really whatever occupant package you want,” Renna said Tuesday during the Car Management Briefing Seminars here.

There’s no engine or center tunnel to package around, and the platform can easily be utilized for front-, rear- or all-wheel drive, he said.

Automakers such as Tesla, Jaguar Land Rover and BMW have utilized flat battery packs. Additional automakers, including VW and General Motors, have announced plans to adopt such designs as well.

However, Renna said he doesn’t necessarily believe flat packs will be an industry standard in the long term.

“I hope we don’t fall directly into a standard and say, ‘This is what the EV industry needs to be going forward.’ If there’s a new geometry of battery and a new battery chemistry that’s able to better utilize the same things that are important about the pancake or chocolate bar or whatever, I’d love to see the industry innovate around those things,” he told Automotive News after his presentation.

VW is committed to the design platform, which it refers to as MEB, today but there are “many years of innovation ahead of us,” he said.

Across all of its brands, VW Group is planning to electrify its entire model portfolio by 2030, including four new all-electric vehicles for the United States by 2025.

The first vehicle to utilize the MEB for the U.S. will be a crossover based on an all-electric concept called the I.D. Crozz. It is expected in 2020.

MEB-based cars, the company has said, will have a range of 240-360 miles, along with rapid charging capabilities. They will be priced to match comparable diesel cars, according to VW. a

You can reach Michael Wayland at mwayland@crain.com.

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