What is the difference between 400 volt and 800 volt electric cars?
Doubling the voltage of electric cars means the time it takes to charge the electric vehicle’s battery pack is effectively cut in half. An 800V system also means that an EV’s wiring and electrical components can be thinner and smaller, resulting in a lighter and more efficient car.
Say what you will about gasoline-powered internal combustion engine cars (ICE) and their atmospheric emissions, but there is a certain joy in knowing that filling up at the gas station will only take a few minutes, after which you will have the opportunity to choose from a wide range of overpriced snacks to choose from when you feel like it.
It’s in stark contrast to fully charging an electric vehicle, which takes around 18 minutes at its fastest. And in the worst case several hours.
That can be a major deterrent for people used to the convenience that comes with filling up a gas guzzler, but it’s a problem that EV manufacturers are well aware of and a concerted effort is being made to fix things to accelerate.
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One solution is the development of new battery technologies such as solid-state and graphene batteries, the latter being 60 times faster compared to the lithium-ion cells commonly used in modern electric vehicles.
The other solution is to change the electrical architecture of an EV from 400V to 800V.
Before we get into that, though, it’s worth looking at EV battery specifications and answering some common questions.
How many batteries are in an electric car?
The fast answer? Many.
Getting down to basics, every electric vehicle has a 12V lead-acid battery – just like ICE cars – which is primarily used to power some of the electrical systems and accessories in the vehicle.
There is also a lithium-ion battery pack used to power the electric vehicle’s electric motor (or motors if it has more than one), each pack typically containing thousands of individual cells.
How big is the battery of an electric car?
The size depends on how powerful the battery is. For example, a 17.6 kWh battery pack is smaller than a far more dense 100 kWh battery pack that you’ll find in an electric vehicle like the Tesla Model S.
What is the voltage of the battery in an electric car?
As mentioned earlier, the voltage of the EV battery is 12V for the lead-acid battery and typically between 400-800V for the lithium-ion battery.
If you’re wondering, “How many volts is a Tesla battery?” it’s 350V for Model 3 and Model X, 375V for Model S, and 400V for Model Y.
The battery voltage of hybrid electric vehicles is between 100 and 300 V depending on the size of the battery.
400V vs 800V
A 400V architecture has historically been the norm for electric vehicles, but that will change with the introduction of 800V systems, already found in certain models from automakers such as Audi, Porsche, Hyundai and Kia.
The main downside is that the 800V architecture is more expensive to develop, but that hasn’t stopped car brands from – if you’ll pardon the pun – charge ahead as 800V is expected to become the standard for electric vehicles by 2025.
If you look at 400V versus 800V charging, the latter is the clear winner as it essentially halves the charging time.
There are other benefits too: the higher voltage produces less current, which reduces heat — always a good thing when it comes to EV batteries, as battery cooling systems can draw power. Lower current also means charging cables can be thinner and less cumbersome, and certain electrical components in cars can also be thinner and smaller, making the car lighter and more efficient.
Paired with faster-charging solid-state or graphene batteries, both of which are still a few years away from widespread use, 800V should be able to deliver a 10 to 80 percent charge in 10 minutes or less – a huge improvement over current ones Loading time .
Some ultra-fast DC fast chargers have a capacity of up to 350kWh, but that capability is lost on 400V EVs, as that capacity can fry batteries faster than an egg on the sun’s surface.
The battery pack in an electric vehicle with an 800V system has the lithium-ion cells connected in series, an optimization that combats overheating and improves thermal efficiency, and also allows for voltage boosting.
It’s worth noting, however, that an 800V EV is only practical when using an ultra-fast DC fast charger, with charging speeds in excess of 300kW not currently in abundance in Australia, although more will be introduced in the coming months and years will.
EVs with 800V architecture
Models include the Porsche Taycan, Hyundai Ioniq 5, Genesis G80 EV, Kia EV6 and Audi e-Tron GT.
Other automakers committed to an 800-volt architecture include Volvo, Polestar, Stellantis, General Motors, BYD, and Lotus.
The Lucid Air EV takes it a step further with its 900V architecture, making it the fastest charging EV ever.