It’s Official: DBM Energy’s Electric Car Battery Is Real

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Photo by flickr user. Nuonde - Reproduced under CC version 2.0

Photo by flickr user. Nuonde - Reproduced under CC version 2.0

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Remember the controversial 2010 Audi A2 converted by German battery firm DBM Energy?

The car hit the headlines last year when it apparently travelled 375 miles on a single charge. Powered by the latest battery technology, the car’s creators even claimed a 6 minute recharge time. 

But before any official tests were carried out on the car or the battery pack to back up the seemingly outlandish claims, the car was mysteriously destroyed in a warehouse fire.

Luckily, the ‘wonder battery’ - a Kolibri alpha-polymer battery pack  was not present in the vehicle during the fire, and has been put through its paces at the hands of Dekra, an independent testing organization which works heavily with the automotive industry in Germany.

According to a press release from DBM energy, testers at Dekra ran a converted A2 similar to the one destroyed at the DBM warehouse on a chassis dynamometer and were able to drive the car for a simulated 283 miles on a single charge. 

Similar to a 2011 Tesla Roadster

But the tests are hardly unexpected. The DBM Kolibri Lithium-metal polmer battery pack used in the tests had a capacity of 63 kilowatt-hours, making it a little over 12% bigger than the Lithium-ion battery pack found in the 2011 Tesla Roadster. 

DBM Energy Audi A2 Electric Car

DBM Energy Audi A2 Electric Car

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On a full charge, the 2011 Tesla Roadster has an EPA approved range of 245 miles. The 12% bigger battery pack of the DBM converted A2 produced just over 15% increase in range. 

Missing Miles?

The observant reader may note that there is a deficit of 92 miles between the claimed range of the original record-breaking DBM Energy A2 and the one tested by Dekra. 

You’re right. However, the since-destroyed original vehicle included a 115 kilowatt-hour pack, more than accounting for the deficit in miles. 

Accounting for the added weight a 115 kilowatt-hour pack would bring, the initial 375 mile claim looks plausible. 

Is it Better?

But is the Kolibri battery any better than others on the market today? 

The real answer, as with any battery technology, lies in its longevity, charge rate, power density and energy density. In other words, how long the pack will retain its ability to hold charge over time, how quickly it can charge or provide power, and how light it is.

The Next Step

Now Dekra has confirmed the Kolibri pack is not simply vaporware and seems to achieve the kind of figures its makers claim, larger scale testing is planned for later this year. 

But don’t expect affordable 375 mile electric hatchbacks just yet. DBM and its battery pack will have some long term testing to satisfy before the cells even get near a major automaker. 

[DBM Energy]

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Comments (21)
  1. Great news, but, who set the fire? Who would have the motive, who could be threatened by such disruptive technology, by the risk of decimating a hundred year old business... who?

  2. Ah, Can you say oil companies? There probaly was a "mole" in the group, one working for the oil company to relay technology and progress reports. When it seemed that it was working great....PPOOOOOOOOFF!!! Up in smoke and fire.

  3. Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity. Or accident.
    Lightning killed a tree near my front yard the other morning. Happens all the time. Maybe the warehouse did not have lightning rods. Natural gas leaks cause home explosions nearly every week in the US. Stuff happens.

  4. The fire is irrelevant at this point. What we don't yet have is the real Wh/Kg number or the cost.

  5. If you're building better batteries, the last thing you need to do to prove it is to stuff some into an electric car and drive it down the road. What is this? Science/publicity for the brainless masses?

  6. I still don't get how the DBM battery is better than other lithium based battery chemistries. All DBM energy has proven so far is that the bigger you make the battery the longer your range. Kinda obvious really. The $60.000 question is of course: how big (volume) was the battery, what did it weigh, how long will it last and how much would it cost in mass production. Without answers to these questions DBM still hasn't proven it's not a fraud. It could still be passing off batteries with unimpressive characteristics as something new just by stuffing loads of them in a car and driving a long distance with it.

  7. Pay attention folks...
    "a 6 minute recharge time."
    If this turns out to be true that means that an EV with a 200 mile range would be good enough for almost all of us.
    Take a long trip only now and then?
    Drive 200 miles, stop for less than ten minutes and pick up another 160 miles (assuming 80% charge), drive those off and stop for another 160.
    A 520 mile driving day with two pee stops.

  8. Ummmm... Didn't anyone notice that in paragraph 4 the article claims the battery was not in the vehicle which is why they could get back to testing so quickly.
    Further in the article it states that the current results used a 63kwh battery. Then states that the reason for lower miles was because the previous car destroyed had a 115kwh battery...
    Huh???? There is something either fishy with the company or someone is mixing up the information.

  9. Attached is a link to a March 31, 2011 news feature story (in German) that includes an interview with DBM Energie's Director, Mirko Hannemann. A smaller battery was intentionally built for the Dekra testing. The original (98 KwH) battery used during the October 2010 Munich-Berlin test drive thru interpolation was found to have a range of 716 km (429 miles) ! DBM's Kolibri pack also passed rigorous product safety tests performed by the German Federal Government's Materials Research Institute (BAM). According to the interview three Kolibri equipped test cars are expected to be on the roads of Germany in June 2011. DBM notes their Kolibri solid-state Lithium Metal Polymer pack can be cycled 5,000 times and has inherent capability for a 10 minute recharge. Most interestingly, in mass production DBM believes their Kolibri will cost significantly less than other packs presently on the market. The Kolibri is said to be designed for multiple energy storage applications as well as for transportation.

  10. One additional comment to my previous post, DBM's Kolibri appears to be a solid-state battery (Lithium-Metal-Polymer) that doesn't require a separate cooling system. Metal solid state batteries were first invented decades ago, long before today's lithium-ion packs. The decades old version of the solid-state metal battery reportedly had major energy density and safety limitations. Today, after years of steady scientific advances, several companies are again researching solid-state energy storage. A safe and successful solid state battery holds the promise of providing high capacity and far lower manufacturing cost. This in turn might provide a positive incentive for the development of affordable long range all-electric transportation for more folks. In 2010 GM made a substantial mutl-million dollar investment in Sakti-3 in Ann Arbor, Michigan where they're conducting solid-state battery research. Planar in Florida and Sony Japan are doing similar solid-state battery research. It is possible a small group of bright young physicists in Berlin, Germany (DBM Energie) might be among the first to invent a practical solid-state battery? For Sure! Let's hope the efforts are successful.

  11. Why can't I buy a Prismatic battery, for say, $9,000 that would take my 30 yr old EV 100 mi range.
    I got $1,500 FLA's that take me 20 mi range.
    Now, that's American.

  12. srschrier - Thanks for your info. Perhaps you should be writing articles here?

  13. Let's hope the efforts are successful.
    We were all hoping EEStor was successful.

  14. #13 Unlike "EEStor", DBM's showing real products with real evaluations by recognized third party engineering organizations in Germany. Let's hope their technology validation efforts during 2011 continue to show they're the real deal.

  15. Check out
    Claims, 5000 recharge cycles, 98kWhr version only $1400 and 770 lbs, that's 280WHr/kg.
    The energy density is about on par with the Tesla battery if you do not include the cooling system. So this is not an unreasonable claim. The price is the BIG part of the announcement.

  16. (Claims, 5000 recharge cycles, 98kWhr version only $1400 and 770 lbs, that's 280WHr/kg.).....sounds great I hope they can actually produce produce it at that cost and mass produce it.....
    I was hoping on EEStor or Ecolocap
    Leo Motors and their Zinc air fuel cell also looks very interesting...(full scale size prototype by Sept) if they're lucky......
    and of course Blacklight power and their CIHT technology if they're ever able to commercialize it...

  17. If DBM can license a 60kWh Kolibri pack at $2000 or less I'm in. Price is conjecture at this point until the specifics of mass manufacturing are established.

  18. Seems as though there was a lot of confusion. The car that burned was not the same vehicle that ran the highway test. Sorry, conspiracy lovers, but nothing was destroyed. It is also rather idiotic to believe that a company would only have a battery and
    no clue as to how they themselves built same. Let's get real and show a little simple logical thinking and quit believing in oil bogeymen. They have never raised a finger to prevent any electric car effort. The problem lies in the cars, a fact which Chris Paine refused to acknowedge in his hunt for villains, making him resemble Inspector Clouseau
    at his clumsiest. He created more red herrings than a Charlie Chan movie. A complete and utter incompetent documentarian who invents history.

  19. Verification that batteries have a crazy long lifespan - 5000 recharges without degredation.
    The batteries will outlast several cars, which means much lower cost even if initial cost the same. BUT
    Mirka Hanemann claims the cost for his batteries will be less. And, comments notwithstanding, the
    batteries have already been undergoing extensive testing for the past year. Hanemann says he is ready to manufacture NOW.

  20. but according to range anxiety, batteries will never get better.

  21. The "metal" in these batteries is VANADIUM. In case anyone wanted to know...

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