The main impediment to electric vehicle adoption is battery technology. Here is a look at some research currently going on.
GM, said Dr. Abbas, is looking for about a three-fold increase in anode and cathode capacity over that provided by the conventional combination of carbonaceous anodes and layered oxide cathodes.Toyota:
Two promising approaches GM Research is exploring on the anode side to reach this target are the use of silicon-coated carbon nanofiber; and the use of metal hydrides. On the cathode side, Abbas said that GM had developed a material with capacity close to the 3X target, but that he could not discuss that yet.
Watanabe was referring to what’s known as a metal-air battery, according to Toyota Executive Vice-President Masatami Takimoto. In this type of battery, electricity is generated by a reaction between oxygen in the air and a metal like zinc at the negative electrode. The battery does not require the use of a combustible liquid electrolyte, so there is no danger of ignition as is the case with lithium-ion batteries. Moreover, an air battery has over fives times the energy-storage capacity of a similarly-sized lithium-ion battery...It may take some time before air batteries reach the practical stage, but Toyota believes that they will ultimately become the next-generation battery technology of choice.I don't know much about Metal-Air batteries, but this source says that they are cheap and have high energy storage, but are difficult to recharge. The idea might then be that you don't recharge your battery at home, but rather swap it for a new one at your local gasoline station.
Dr. Jiqiang Wang of the Tianjin Institute of Power Sources (TIPS) provided an overview of the government-supported R&D projects for lithium-ion batteries for transportation, which are now focusing on two primary cathode materials: manganese spinel (LiMn2O4) and iron phosphate (LiFePO4).I have no idea which technique will end up being the best, but the more research being done by corporations and countries on batteries the quicker the day comes when electric vehicles overtake internal combustion engine vehicles.
Looking ahead for the next two or three years, said Dr. Wang, the government-supported 863 project will continue to support R&D on LiMn2O4, but will also start to support R&D on LiFePO4.