Electric car battery charges in less than five minutes on track test

Image source, Getty Images

Comment on the photo, This type of shipping could be a fast process in the future.

  • author, Zoe Kleinman
  • Role, Technology Editor

An electric car battery developed by British startup Newbolt has successfully charged from 10% to 80% in four minutes and 37 seconds in its first live demonstration.

This was achieved using a specially designed sports car on a test track in Bedford, and is part of an industry-wide effort to make electric vehicle charging faster.

By comparison, Tesla’s current Supercharger can charge a car’s battery to 80% in 15 to 20 minutes.

Experts say eliminating so-called “range anxiety” is key to increasing the use of electric vehicles – but they also stress the importance of improving charging infrastructure.

Paul Shearing, professor of sustainable energy engineering at the University of Oxford, told the BBC: “Developing technology that enables people to charge more quickly, which corresponds to the time it currently takes to refuel a car, is really important.”

But he added that there should be more chargers of all kinds.

“People will want fast charging infrastructure, no matter what type of car they drive – everyone wants to do it faster,” he added.

The sports car with the Neobolt battery installed – which was tested over two days this week – was able to cover a distance of 120 miles in four minutes

An 80% charged Tesla is expected to have a range of up to 200 miles.

Comment on the photo, The sports car runs on a fast-charging battery

The demo was performed live in front of an invited audience of industry professionals for the first time – with a few hiccups along the way.

Challenges included a UK heatwave, a failure in the prototype car’s cooling system, and a standard on-site charger that was not manufactured by Newbolt.

These factors have prevented the company from reproducing lab results, which say the battery can be charged from 0% to 100% in six minutes.

However, Dr Shevardi described the event as a “major breakthrough in electricity”, and joked that his car was still charging, having plugged it in when he arrived earlier that day.

Comment on the photo, The public testing of the technology was “nerve-wracking,” says Dr. Shevardi.

Newbolt says it has no intention of manufacturing its own vehicles, and plans to partner with existing car brands, with the possibility of putting the battery inside electric vehicles “on a small scale” within a year.

The powerful 350 kW ultra-fast chargers required by this technology are generally available in the UK but are not yet widespread.

The company also claims to have reduced degradation — it says the battery still holds 80% charge after 4,000 cycles.

A full cycle is a charge from 0 to 100%, but it doesn’t have to come all at once. For example, two 50% charges would count as one cycle.

Apple says the iPhone 15 battery will operate at 80% capacity after 1,000 cycles.

Comment on the photo, Internal parts of Nyobolt

Strength, weight and durability

Last year, Toyota said a technological breakthrough would enable it to develop a solid-state battery that could be charged in 10 minutes and last 1,200 kilometers (754 meters).

A small charger developed by American startup Gravity can add 200 miles of range to an electric car in less than 13 minutes.

But Dr Edward Brightman, lecturer in chemical engineering at the University of Strathclyde, said that although fast charging is useful for long journeys, the real barrier to the adoption of electric cars still lies in the supporting infrastructure.

He added, “Electric cars are no longer limited to batteries only.”

“We urgently need to modernize the grid and deploy fast chargers capable of delivering the charge to the battery.”

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