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The EU-funded programme SmartBatt (Smart and Safe Integration of Batteries in Electric Vehicles) has demonstrated that intelligent engineering can lead to significantly higher energy densities at a system level.

Case study: SmartBatt

The programme objective was to develop and prove an innovative electric vehicle battery which was integrated into the vehicle’s structure and focused on:

  • Minimizing weight
  • Optimizing safety
  • Minimizing costs
  • Design capable for series production


  • Battery for an B-class BEV (battery electric vehicle) with 100km NEDC Range
  • 15% lighter than current standard (75% weight ratio between system and cell)
  • Crash safety based on reference SLC (Super LIGHT-CAR) body
  • Integrated BEV has same static and dynamic requirements as SLC
  • Energy content > 20 kWh (> 100 km NEDC @ 1350 kg curb weight)

An additional target was to ensure no restrictions to passenger compartment.  This was achieved by integrating the battery housing into the floor structure.  This both significantly reduced the weight of the system and enhanced crash safety.

Johnson Matthey Battery Systems' role was to select suitable cells to meet the criteria of high energy density, mechanical stability, thermal performance, space optimisation, reduced manufacturing cost and ability to withstand pressure.  Given that cells account for up to 80% of the weight of the pack, this was a critical choice.  Johnson Matthey Battery Systems investigated different concepts (e.g. metal case vs. pouch cell) to achieve the greatest energy density within the space available. The consortium then designed and developed a suitable battery housing system. This battery was then integrated into the vehicle and subjected to a range of safety and performance tests.

Johnson Matthey Battery Systems also led some of the tasks regarding assessment of the impact of future cell developments, theoretical risk and failure analysis and how energy storage systems can be easily replaced. As a battery manufacturer with enormous knowledge and experience in Li-ion batteries, Johnson Matthey Battery Systems has been providing technical support to the consortium throughout the project 's duration.


  • Improved energy density of 148 Wh/kg at system level leading to range improvement
  • Total weight of 155 kg achieved (goal was 169 kg).  This reduced weight meant improved energy consumption
  • 23 kWh with a total mass of 155 kg (reduction in housing mass to just 8.5 kg).  The ratio between cell and total mass increased to over 80% by use of new materials such as Aluminium hybrid foam sandwich for the battery housing and smart integration.
  • Improvement over base vehicle for safety side pole test
  • The concept is very suitable for mass production, with potential cost savings

Overall the programme demonstrated that intelligent engineering, i.e. lightweight design and system integration, can lead to significantly higher energy densities at a system level.

Project results are now being disseminated through:

  • Collaboration with related EU projects
  • Presentations & Workshops: Fire-fighter Workshop, EARPA, EGCI
  • Publications: EEVC 2012, ECCOMAS 2012
  • Exhibitions
  • Input into regulations and standards (e.g. ISO TC22/SC21 and UNECE R100 amendment)

Project overview

The project was part-funded by the EU’s 7th Framework Programme. It involved 9 partners from 5 European countries: AIT Austrian Institute of Technology, LKR Ranshofen (AIT LKR), Axeon Technologies (now Johnson Matthey Battery Systems), Fraunhofer Gesellschaft, Impact Design Europe, Ricardo UK, SP Sweden, Graz University of Technology (VSI), Volkswagen AG.

Project duration January 2011 –March 2013

More information on the project can be found at