Automotive

Piëch doubles down on its outrageous sub-5-minute EV charging claims

Piëch doubles down on its outr...
The Piëch Mark Zero looks gorgeous in red, but the real story is its next-gen, ultra fast charging battery technology
The Piëch Mark Zero looks gorgeous in red, but the real story is its next-gen, ultra fast charging battery technology
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Piech's Mark Zero sportscar concept
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Piech's Mark Zero sportscar concept
0-100 km/h in 3.3 seconds is enough for most people
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0-100 km/h in 3.3 seconds is enough for most people
The platform will extend to make way for a 4-seat coupe
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The platform will extend to make way for a 4-seat coupe
The 2-seat platform
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The 2-seat platform
These pouch-style Desten cells are where most of the magic and the mystery lie
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These pouch-style Desten cells are where most of the magic and the mystery lie
Piëch is looking at a fuel cell powertrain as well
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Piëch is looking at a fuel cell powertrain as well
A lovely looking back end
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A lovely looking back end
The Mark Zero from side on
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The Mark Zero from side on
A 150-kW motor on each axle
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A 150-kW motor on each axle
Piëch says it might do a hybrid version that looks something like this
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Piëch says it might do a hybrid version that looks something like this
The Piëch Mark Zero looks gorgeous in red, but the real story is its next-gen, ultra fast charging battery technology
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The Piëch Mark Zero looks gorgeous in red, but the real story is its next-gen, ultra fast charging battery technology
The platform will adapt to a sporty SUV
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The platform will adapt to a sporty SUV
"The next step"
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"The next step"
The Mark Zero concept looks lovely, but frankly it's not really the story here
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The Mark Zero concept looks lovely, but frankly it's not really the story here
Desten's battery test results
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Desten's battery test results
Desten has included cell test results to back up its claims
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Desten has included cell test results to back up its claims
More cell test results
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More cell test results

People will stop complaining about EV range the minute fast charging is a reality, and new startup Piëch reckons it's got the goods to deliver an 80 percent charge on a 311-mile (500 km) range battery in four minutes, 40 seconds, which is vastly quicker than anything else on the market. Why not just launch the battery, then?

While the Piëch Mark Zero, due for prototype testing next year, looks like a terrific electric sports car, the car itself pales into insignificance behind the claims these guys are making about their ultra-fast charging setup, which, as astute commenters on our original piece pointed out, would require some pretty fearsome megawatt-pushing technology at the charge station as well as some uniquely amazing battery properties.

"The next step"
"The next step"

Desten's ultra-fast charging battery claims

Today, a little more information trickled out about the batteries, from Chinese/German concern Desten, and the chargers, from another Chinese/German company called TGOOD – as well as Piëch announcing two new variants of its sporty EV platform.

From Desten's COO Andrew Whitworth came this slightly cryptic screed: "Due to the ongoing patent process, we cannot comment more detailed information about our lithium ion cells at the moment. This much I can reveal: we were able to construct the inner workings of the cell in such a way that significantly stronger currents can flow, hardly any heat develops during charging and discharging, and the entire recuperation can be made much more efficient."

He goes on to flash some testing credentials: "The whole thing works: TÜV Süd, along with renowned system supplier Hofer Powertrain, which works for well-known car manufacturers, and the University of Esslingen have tested and certified our cells. We are concentrating on the series production of our cells and batteries." And to add some credibility, he attaches some poorly done scans of the test results:

Desten's battery test results
Desten's battery test results

Piëch, for its part, says that the batteries deal with heat so well under both input and output power loads that they need no cooling system. The entire Mark Zero powertrain will be air-cooled despite its 300-kilowatt (402-hp) twin-motor AWD setup and 3.3-second 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) acceleration time. That saves about 200 kg (441 lb) of weight, assisting both performance and range, and that'll be another benefit other car companies will appreciate if and when they get access to the battery tech.

Piëch's head of engineering Klaus Schmidt has apparently been to China to test drive a trial vehicle equipped with the Desten batteries, and is suitably pleased, saying: "I'm already looking forward to when we launch the Piëch Mark Zero onto the market with this innovative technology in three years' time. Besides the short charging time, the innovative thermal management of the batteries also gives them the highest level of stability, and fast laps on the Nürburgring Nordschleife should not be a problem with the first roadworthy prototype of our Piëch Mark Zero in the spring of next year."

Piech's Mark Zero sportscar concept
Piech's Mark Zero sportscar concept

TGOOD's ultra-fast chargers – soon to be available at home

Jolly good then. As to TGOOD and its ultra-fast chargers, Piëch is now saying that these monstrous charging speeds will be available from a home garage wall box that TGOOD will make.

"The wall box charging station not only ensures that the new Piëch Mark Zero is charged to 80 percent of its battery capacity in 4:40 minutes," reads the press release, "it can also be used as a modular storage unit."

Storage unit? For energy? Is this thing going to be a Tesla Powerwall on steroids, some kind of megawatt-pumping supercapacitor capable of flash-charging somewhere around 100 kilowatt-hours' worth of energy in a matter of minutes? It'd make sense for these things to sip energy slowly from the grid, save it up and blast it in only when required – that'd make them much easier to install without needing a gigantic pipe that could handle instantaneous megawatt draws from the grid.

Piëch seems to think so, saying they're "suitable for both automotive and industrial solutions. In larger applications, they can thus serve to protect the power grid – eg. for rapid load balancing or emergency power supply. In general, applications that rely on the rapid delivery of great amounts of power will also benefit commercially as, in most cases, storage size and hence cost can be reduced." Color us intrigued once more.

The platform will extend to make way for a 4-seat coupe
The platform will extend to make way for a 4-seat coupe

Piëch outlines range plans

While the battery and charging tech could be significant to the entire EV industry, Piëch's cars will likely price themselves into exclusivity – hence why we address them last, and go light on detail. The Mark Zero concept is best explained as a preview of the Piëch GT-2 two-seater sports car.

The same platform will be extended into a four-seater GT-4 sports coupe, and Piëch will build upwards as well, for a GT-X SUV. The GT-2 is expected to be on sale in about three years, followed by the GT-X SUV and the GT-4 at a later stage.

Piëch says it might do a hybrid version that looks something like this
Piëch says it might do a hybrid version that looks something like this

The company is also looking at hybrid and fuel cell powertrain options, although with a battery setup like it says it'll be premiering, you have to wonder why it'd bother. Indeed, you have to wonder about Desten's choices as well – why the company is choosing to debut such a (potentially) radically transformative battery technology in a small, short-run startup's first car. Will the expense be prohibitive? Is volume production going to be a problem? Or is Desten just most comfortable starting out at very low volumes?

The whole thing is a fascinating mystery for the time being, and one we'll be keeping an eye on.

Source: Piëch

19 comments
VincentWolf
Incredible if true and not vaporware.
Leonard Foster Jr
If this tech is true and has a vast cycle life it means Game over Tesla and even some fossil fuel Mfg .
SimonClarke
Just like the other two comments this is incredible. Even if the final product is only half as good it will still be incredible.
noahvail
Amazing if it's accurate. I just hope this isn't a case of the company name being short for TooGOODtobetrue.
Dalong
How long do these car batteries keep a charge if not used, how much do they cost and how much do they weigh? Sounds like they may be good for camping or other applications where a generator is typically used. Nice quiet portable power sounds like a cool thing.
MarcJackson
Australian Nanode by Nano Nouvelle exceeded this C rating, charge discharge efficiency a few years ago. It's the energy density that needs increasing and Nanode achieved this also. Hybrids still needed until greater energy density, nowhere do they show this figure.
Simon Redford
So if we assume 500km at 0.2kWh/km, that’s 100kWh and it gets charged to 80% - 80kWh. Taking the headline figure, a charge to 80% in 4 minutes and 40 seconds (280 seconds) gives an average charge rate of just over 1 MW – That would be amazing if it is true! The test figures are far from clear, but seem to suggest two phases, with one at 19A for 4 minutes and 50 seconds, followed by one at 190A for 8 minutes and 8 seconds – 13 minutes to full charge of ~100kWh, giving an average charging power of 462kW – still a lot of power and therefore some serious voltages and/or large currents. As for the fast garage charge, given that most homes have no more than 100 amp 230V single-phase supply (realistically 20kW max) this implies a large battery in the garage which is charged from the mains supply over 7 or more hours and then transfers its charge to the car battery. Lot of batteries! There’s a lot that needs properly explaining/correcting in this announcement.
guzmanchinky
Completely inevitable. Once you have a 5 minute battery kiss the gasoline engine goodbye. And no home charger needed at that point, just have Chevron and Shell change some filling stations into charging stations.
jerryd
First off the cells have been around for 15 yrs that can do this. They use them in hybrids that normally do this proportionally day in and day out. My Volt modules will do it too at 16c with room to spare as you only need 12c. Other cells do 30c. Next the cost of such high peak demand from the grid even with storage makes it too costly. The BoS is much heavier. Smart is charging in 12 minutes instead cuts power need 60% is actually viable.
paul314
A quick back of the envelope says that they need about 1000 of the battery pouches they tested. And unless they have some interesting cooling or battery geometry, the middle cells are going to be way more than 10 degrees above ambient temperature.