Co-evolution and Diversity: The case of Batteries for alternative energy vehicles

Type de publication:

Conference Paper


Arturo Lara


Gerpisa colloquium, Paris (2017)


In recent decades automotive companies and battery-producing companies have faced the problems of moving from internal combustion vehicles (ICEs) to alternative energy vehicles (VEAs). One of the main challenges in this transition is the design and development of batteries that satisfy (in an efficient, reliable and safe way) the needs of each type of VEA. (Park 2010; EUROBAT, 2016; Nikowitz, 2016; Bridges 2015; Emadi y Berthold 2014; Crolla 2014; Khajepour 2014; Badins 2013; Crolla y Mashadi 2011; Pistoia 2010)
Alternative energy vehicles mainly use three types of batteries: lead-acid (PA), nickel-metal hydride (NiHM) and lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries. Each of these batteries evolves according to the niche market in which the different classes of VEA perform. Six classes of alternative energy vehicles (VEAs) are recognized: electric vehicles (EVs), plug-in hybrids (PHEVs), pure hybrids (FHEVs), soft hybrids (MHEVs), micro hybrids (MHVs), and internal combustion vehicles with Auto-start-stop (ICE +) (Link et al. 2015; Scrosati et al. 2015; Jiang y Zhang 2015; Pistoia 2014; Lowe et al. 2010.

From this perspective, the central question of this work is: what is the relationship between this diversity of batteries and the diversity of VEAs? The objective of this research is to show that diversity (Page 4, 2011) is the emergent result (Holland 1996, 2006, 2014) of a co-evolutionary process (Arthur 2009) between, on the one hand, the need for batteries to respond to requirements of the EVEs, and on the other, the conformation of new niches of VEAs. It seeks to represent the systemic interdependence battery / vehicle, underlying diversity.

To do this, we describe the design microstructures (Baldwin and Clark 2000) of: a) the electric / electronic functions of vehicles, b) the technical parameters of the batteries and c) the active material. Then, the inventive step is reconstructed related to the batteries used by the VEAs. We consider the patents granted by the USPTO in the period 1980-2013. Subsequently, based on the analysis of the technological classes of patents and the methodology developed by Strumsky et al. 2011; Hall et al. 2001 and Kaufman, 1993, distinguish both the exploration / exploitation activities present in the inventive effort and the degree of complexity of the patents. With this information and methodology it is possible to identify the nature of the patterns of interaction between the batteries and the different configurations of VEAs.

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