Energy Transition

What is cell-to-body technology and what does it mean for the EV industry?

Cell-to-body technology, is when the battery cells are seamlessly installed into a car’s structure.

Cell-to-body technology, is when the battery cells are seamlessly installed into a car’s structure. Image: Unsplash/Ralph Hutter

Thea de Gallier
Senior Writer, Forum Agenda
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Energy Transition

This article is part of: Centre for Energy and Materials
  • Electric vehicle (EV) batteries can be lighter and cheaper to manufacture when cells are integrated directly into car bodies.
  • EVs play a crucial role in the shift to clean energy, and cell-to-body technology makes EV manufacturing and assembly more efficient.
  • The Forum’s upcoming Special Meeting in Riyadh will convene over 700 leaders to discuss global cooperation as a means of accelerating a sustainable energy transition, among other pressing issues.

With the increasing adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) – global sales grew 31% in 2023 according to Reuters – manufacturers are having to improve and adapt designs to ensure EVs meet the needs of the modern world. A common concern is the distance or range they can travel on a single charge. One way of improving this is to install a larger battery – but that adds weight to the vehicle, which necessitates larger brakes, and overall could make the car more cumbersome.

That’s where cell-to-body technology comes in. Instead of cells being contained in a traditional battery pack and then installed into the car, they are integrated into the car’s body. Tesla floated the idea in 2020, but more recently Chinese manufacturer BYD has been in the headlines for its pioneering use of the technology.

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What is cell-to-body technology?

Cell-to-body, also called cell-to-chassis technology, is when the battery cells are seamlessly installed into a car’s structure. This reduces the weight of the vehicle and frees up space that would have been needed for a large battery pack. The cells are cheaper to manufacture than the alternative design of cell modules that are connected into packs.

Adhering cells directly to the body of the EV also makes for simpler assembly. Not only is the entire structure easier and more time-efficient for engineers to put together, but it also uses fewer materials.

As Euan McTurk, a consultant battery electrochemist, explains to Wired magazine: “Integrating cells into the chassis allows the cells and the chassis to become multi-purpose. The cells become energy-storing and structurally supporting, while the chassis becomes structurally supporting and cell-protecting. This effectively cancels out the weight of the cell casing, turning it from dead weight into something valuable to the structure of the vehicle.”

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Why EVs are an important part of the green transition

There were more than 26 million EVs on the road in 2022 – a 60% increase on 2021, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). In its Net Zero Emissions scenario, electrification is the “prominent lever” to decarbonization, “with electricity representing three-quarters of energy consumption in road transport in 2050”.

Fuel shares of road energy consumption
Ramping up electrification will be key to decarbonizing road transport to 2030. Image: International Energy Agency

Greater investment is necessary to meet net-zero targets, the Forum says, citing IEA data in its Fostering Effective Energy Transition 2023 report that “$0.9 trillion needs to be invested by 2030 to modernize electricity networks and build public electric vehicle charging stations” and said that EV battery manufacturing capacity is 15% below the necessary level to meet 2030 targets.

Cell-to-body technology is a promising development in terms of making the EV manufacturing and assembly processes simpler. If widespread adoption across the EV industry meant that 15% gap could be closed, it would be a significant step forward to meeting the carbon reduction targets in transportation.

The Forum’s upcoming Special Meeting in Riyadh (28-29 April 2024) will convene more than 700 leaders from all sectors and industries, enabling a comprehensive dialogue on how global cooperation can be leveraged to accelerate economic development, promote a more sustainable energy transition, and advance technology.

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