Hello,

We noticed you're browsing in private or incognito mode.

To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in.

Not an Insider? Subscribe now for unlimited access to online articles.

Kevin Bullis

A View from Kevin Bullis

Fast-Charging Buses

High-power batteries could provide a way to make electric vehicles more affordable.

  • October 30, 2009

The high cost of batteries is one of the biggest reasons why electric vehicles aren’t widespread. We recently wrote about an interesting solution to this problem–rather than equipping an electric vehicle with enough batteries for a day’s driving, use a minimal amount of energy storage but provide a way to recharge quickly. This way you can spend a lot less on energy storage and bring the cost down to something competitive with conventional vehicles. In the case we wrote about, Sinautec Automobile Technologies has equipped buses with ultracapacitors with a very limited range–just a few miles–but that can be recharged in 30 seconds or so at bus stops.

Batteries that recharge in 5 to 10 minutes could help make electric vehicles more competitive. Credit: Proterra.

Here’s another approach from Proterra, a company based in Colorado. Instead of ultracapacitors, the company uses batteries from Altairnano that can recharge in 5 to 10 minutes at a special overhead recharging station. The solution doesn’t seem as elegant as using fast-charging ultracapacitors–presumably you’d want a larger range between charges, so you’d need more batteries. But it might be good for some situations where you need a bus to travel further than a few miles between charges.

Couldn't make it to EmTech Next to meet experts in AI, Robotics and the Economy?

Go behind the scenes and check out our video
More from Sustainable Energy

Can we sustainably provide food, water, and energy to a growing population during a climate crisis?

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe and become an Insider.
  • Insider Plus {! insider.prices.plus !}* Best Value

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Everything included in Insider Basic, plus the digital magazine, extensive archive, ad-free web experience, and discounts to partner offerings and MIT Technology Review events.

    See details+

    Print + Digital Magazine (6 bi-monthly issues)

    Unlimited online access including all articles, multimedia, and more

    The Download newsletter with top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox

    Technology Review PDF magazine archive, including articles, images, and covers dating back to 1899

    10% Discount to MIT Technology Review events and MIT Press

    Ad-free website experience

  • Insider Basic {! insider.prices.basic !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Six issues of our award winning print magazine, unlimited online access plus The Download with the top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox.

    See details+

    Print Magazine (6 bi-monthly issues)

    Unlimited online access including all articles, multimedia, and more

    The Download newsletter with top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox

  • Insider Online Only {! insider.prices.online !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Unlimited online access including articles and video, plus The Download with the top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox.

    See details+

    Unlimited online access including all articles, multimedia, and more

    The Download newsletter with top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox

/3
You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. This is your last free article this month. for unlimited online access. You've read all your free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for more, or for unlimited online access. for two more free articles, or for unlimited online access.