Farewell to the scooter-like architecture of electric cars, hello to the structural battery – Technology – Hybrid and Electric


The call scooter architecture of electric cars is based a battery placed on the ground frame with electric motors on the axles or on the wheels themselves. A configuration that Tesla debuted in its brand new Model S and which, little by little, as electric platforms became popular, became a very common trend. With the arrival of the new structural batteries, first announced by Tesla on its ‘Battery Day’ this electric car project it will disappear naturally.

Tesla’s next battery won’t just have an energy function to fulfill in its next electric models. According to the manufacturer the use of this component as active part of the frame structureTogether with other solutions such as the one-piece construction of the rear and front subframe, it will reduce the parts currently in use by 370, the weight by 10% and has the potential to increase the range of its electric cars by 14%. Additionally, the cells will be closer to the center of the car, reducing the likelihood of a side impact hitting them. It also improves the polar moment of inertia, which translates into greater control of the car and therefore greater safety.

Following the announcement of Q3 2020 economic results, Tesla may be in the process of ditching the iconic scooter-like design it created. During the question and answer session, analyst at financial services firm Jefferies, Philippe Houchois, asked Elon Musk if the development of these structural batteries would mean that the company will begin to dispense with the current architecture. The leader’s response was affirmative: “this typology will become obsolete”, but it won’t be immediately. Musk noticed this the transition to structural battery packs will take years.

Tesla structural battery

Tesla structural battery.

It’s not that today’s electric cars “stop having value”. Until now, the battery located on the chassis without structural function, forced since then to duplicate the “vehicle hardware” there is a frame for the frame and one for the battery. A battery, however, which contributes to the structural rigidity of the vehicle, thanks to the honeycomb effect of the cells which transmits the loads to which the frame is subjected between the upper and lower plates, the structure is simplified and production costs are reduced.

The architecture of the scooter costs more and weighs more. The same goes for the one-piece front and rear subframe. “We are trying to make cars as if they were a toy”, starting with bigger and bigger parts. In summary, Musk has noticed this the transition to structural batteries will happen naturally. This is what happened in the aviation and aerospace industry. Early aircraft and rocket designs included separate tanks for propellant and fuel until engineers realized this design didn’t make sense. Eventually, tanks began to be included in the wings of airplanes or in the shape of a rocket’s body. Basically “You don’t want to put a box inside another box”.

When Tesla debuted scooter-like architecture with the Model S, it was seen as a revolutionary idea. Now, will withdrawing it allow the manufacturer to beat the competition once again? As Elon Musk pointed out, the company is rolling out a new idea that will change the rules of the game, because its new electric cars will outperform those of its competitors.


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