“Making our electric vehicle’s battery more efficient”

Published by on 09.11.2018 - 5 min

Bruno Delobel is in charge of the development of electric vehicle batteries at Groupe Renault. His role? To design the most efficient battery possible while promoting an affordable cost for all.

What is the mission of your team?

We manage the development of the entire Renault electric vehicle battery line. We make sure that every future Renault electric vehicle comes equipped with the most high-tech and affordable battery technology available at the time of its release.

Our goal is ambitious: to maintain leadership in terms of performance while maintaining an affordable price. And don’t forget that an efficient battery means a longer-lasting car ride! We’ve been successful with our latest battery. The Z.E. 40, for example, has nearly twice the range of the 2013 ZOE, with a range of about 300 km in real life conditions on a single charge.

How are you working to improve battery efficiency?

Portrait of Bruno Delobel
Bruno Delobel, In charge of the development of electric vehicle batteries at Groupe Renault

In summary, you have to put more energy in the same volume. We analyse all solutions and combine them together: modify the chemistry of the battery cells to increase the energy density, limit the spaces between the cells to favour the active materials, etc. And when we can combine efficiency with cost control, it’s even better!

We reduce our use of materials with the most fluctuating supply costs, such as Cobalt. The problem with this material is that it is subject to price volatility, meaning that its price may increase without notice. We are gradually decreasing its quantity in our battery, which increases energy density while reducing costs.

What does this change in terms of Renault’s traditional skill offering?

As you know, we design and manufacture the engines for our line of electric vehicles. For the battery, it’s the same story. We design them – along with our supplier who produces the cells – in our Technocentre engineering centre and we assemble the parts to make packs in our factory in Flins, in the Paris region.

In terms of design, my team and I accompany our battery suppliers so that together we can continually innovate. In particular, we develop precise technical specifications and implement project-based monitoring systems. It’s a real team effort. In short, we don’t buy our battery at the store. The truth is far from that! For example, in order to design our 2nd-generation battery, I spent several months at the LG Chem Engineering Centre near Seoul. It was a very rewarding collaboration for both companies.

Another important consideration is that we’re preparing the skills of the next generation to design an ever more powerful battery. We’re forging close links with schools and electro-chemistry laboratories. Our objective is to accompany French and European engineers as they develop more and more skills to prepare the battery of the future.