And not catching fire sounds great to us.
As we're all aware by now, EV battery fires are extremely dangerous and tough to fight. Often, they can burn an entire car to the ground. Part of that can come down to whether or not the battery cell was punctured. This is true on everything from the humble Chevy Bolt to the much more expensive Tesla Model S. Fire doesn't discriminate based on MSRP.
Apparently, a tire company has a solution to this. Or at least, Continental has part of a solution to this. Basically, you can think of this as a tire pressure monitoring system for your electric car's precious battery. That's pretty much what it does. Continental calls it the Battery Impact Detection system (BID).
"Vehicle electrification brings new use cases and thus opens up more opportunities to our sensor activities because an electric car has all the sensor needs a conventional car has - and more," says Laurent Fabre, Head of Passive Safety and Sensorics Segment at Continental. "Protecting the battery and retaining its performance, for instance, are two additional tasks in electrified vehicles. The Current Sensor Module and Battery Impact Detection solutions serve both purposes."
Continental says the system will go into effect in a "global automaker's state-of-the-art-electric vehicle" within this year. Unfortunately, we don't know who it is yet. Likely, it's a brand's upcoming EV, as this tech would be easier to integrate into a new vehicle than updating existing ones, which would also leave current owners feeling kind of left out.
Currently, most batteries have some level of protection already, in order to keep them isolated from road debris like big rocks. So, Continental's new system basically treats the entire battery floor like a sensor. That way you'll know exactly how much damage has been done and where it is, as well as if you need to repair it.
That information is then routed through Continental's Current Sensor Module (CSM, pictured below), which helps monitor not only any damage, but also battery temps and overall health; both on the road and during rapid charging.
Conti points out this could be useful for performance EVs as well, as temps and battery health can come at the cost of going quickly in any number of Lightning-fast EVs (we'll get tired of the puns some day, but today isn't that day).
Finally, the CSM can also be used to better calculate a battery's remaining range, thanks largely to the vast number of parameters it can monitor. Ideally, this is the start of an upward trend towards smarter, lighter batteries that can last longer, hopefully making EVs even more viable alternatives to combustion-powered cars.