Automobile manufacturers continue to deal with the issue of having heavy, bulky battery packs in cars. This week, however, Volvo unveiled an innovative solution to that problem. The company has been working with Cytec Industries and eight other European companies to identify a feasible solution to the heavy weight, large size and high costs associated with the batteries seen in hybrids and electric cars today, while maintaining the efficient capacity of power and performance. After three-and-a-half years, the team is replacing steel body panels with carbon fiber composite panels infused with nano-batteries and super capacitors.

The Volvo S80 luxury sedan was used as the test platform. The carbon fiber surrounds the new battery and is molded and formed to fit around the car’s frame. The materials can be recharged and energized by using the vehicle’s brake energy regeneration or by plugging into the main electrical grid. According to Volvo, the system not only charges faster than a traditional battery but it is also strong and pliant.

According the Volvo, weight savings of 15 percent or more could be achieved by completely substituting an electric car’s existing components with the new material. These unique panels can be disguised as anything in the car including the doors, the trunk lid, even the wheel bowls.

Under the hood, Volvo wanted to show that the plenum replacement bar is not only capable of replacing a 12 volt system; it can also save more than 50 percent in weight. This new technology could be applied to both electric and standard cars and used by other manufacturers.