While the fuel economy returned by the current generation of hybrid vehicles is worth bragging about, the extra weight often added by the batteries is not. However, Volvo is out to solve this very problem by developing a material that can act as both a battery and a body panel.
The project, which led Volvo to team up with the Imperial College at London, is based on the development of a new kind of material able to hold a charge and act as a rigid exterior panel. According to the team researching the new material, it could provide up to a 15% weight savings if used correctly.
The majority of the new material will be made of carbon fiber, likely to accommodate the force of an impact. It would act as an insulating coating to make sure your body panel batteries are safe from the elements.
No word on how long it will take to get this kind of technology into production, but it's safe to say it won't be in the immediate future.Mibz