The three and a half year project was run by nine participants, with Volvo Car Group as the only vehicle manufacturer involved, and set out to produce lighter, smaller energy storage units which are better for the environment and more cost-effective too.

The system sandwiches batteries between layers of carbon fibre and polymer resin which are moulded to fit around the car’s frame, allowing panels such as doors, boot lids and the spare wheel bowl to store energy, saving space.

These can be recharged either from a plug, or via regenerative braking, and Volvo said the new material could reduce the weight of an electric vehicle by 15% while reducing cost and environmental impact. 

In the project’s Volvo S80 test car, the boot lid functions as a battery yet is lighter than the same panel on a conventional car. Using the roof, bonnet, doors and floor for energy storage could provide enough capacity for an 80-mile electric range, Volvo said.

But the new technology could also be used in conventionally-powered vehicles. Under the bonnet, the 12V battery for the start-stop system and on-board electronics has been replaced with a single structure which also serves as a brace between the suspension turrets, reducing the weight of these components by 50%.