Your Next Volvo May Be Made out of Batteries

The Swedish car company is developing a material that could be molded into body panels and double as a battery.

Here's one problem companies face when trying to build practical electric cars: Batteries are heavy. If you want to give an electric car more range, that means you need a bigger battery, which means a heavier car, which means it takes more energy to move it. It's a tricky problem.

Volvo might have a solution. The Swedish car company recently announced that it has been working with Imperial College in London to develop a "composite blend of carbon fibers and polymer resin" that can serve as a car's body panels while also functioning as a battery, storing and releasing energy. Future Volvos could be literally made out of batteries. The company's press release candidly admits that "at the moment this is just a fascinating idea," but it does add that "tests are currently under way to see if the vision can be transformed into reality."

If it can, electric cars might get a whole lot cheaper, and the same material could be used to shrink the size of anything that requires a battery: think cell phones and laptops.