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All five of the battery types discussed here are currently either used in electric vehicles or are planned to be used in those vehicles. Nearly all vehicles use lead acid batteries for starting up, and some of the original experimental electric vehicles used them as well. The most commonly used batteries in hybrids are NiCd in older ones, and NiMH in newer ones. The vehicles coming out in the next few years are likely to use Lithium Ion and most prototype cars use either Hydrogen or Lithium Ion batteries.

Most prototype cars use either Hydrogen or Lithium Ion batteries
Below is a table displaying some key metrics for the current state of the five main types of batteries we have been talking about throughout this section.

Metric Importance Lead Acid NiCd NiMH Lithium Ion Hydrogen
Charge/Discharge Efficiency % of energy entered vs. energy returned 70-92% 70-90% 66% 99.9% up to 80%
Energy to Weight Amount of energy stored per weight 30-40 Wh/kg 40-60 Wh/kg 30-80 Wh/kg 160 Wh/kg
Energy to Volume Amount of energy stored per volume 60-75 Wh/L 50-150 Wh/L 140-300 Wh/L 270 Wh/L
Self-Discharge Rate % energy lost over time 3-20%/month 10%/month 30%/month temp. dependent None in "dumb" batteries, 5-10%/month in "smart" None
Lifespan Number of hours or cycles before battery loses 20% of it's capacity 500-800 cycles 2000 cycles 500-1000 cycles 1200 cycles or 24-36 months 5000 hours (150,000 miles)
Fast Charge Time Time for a rapid charge 8 to 16 hours 1 hour 2 to 4 hours 1 hour or less
Energy to Cost Amount of energy stored per dollar 7-18 Wh/$ Unknown 2.75 Wh/$ 2.8-5 Wh/$
Toxicity Harmfulness of components Toxic lead and acids but fortunately, about 90% of lead acid car batteries are recycled Cadmium is highly toxic and harmful to the environment Relatively low toxicity, should be disposed of properly Low toxicity Low to no toxicity
For our sources, click on the the battery technology you are interested in: Lead Acid, NiCd, NiMH, Lithium Ion, Hydrogen.

For more information on the different battery technologies and where they are in terms of efficiency, power density, cost, toxicity, and lifespan, check out the table at
Wikipedia - Fuel Cells
Wikipedia article on hydrogen fuel cells
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Environmental Health and Safety Online - Batteries
Facts about battery usage, disposal, recycling, and toxicity.
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Wikipedia - Lead acid batteries
Wikipedia info on Lead Acid batteries
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Wikipedia - NiCd
Wikipedia info on NiCds
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Wikipedia - NiMH
Wikipedia info on NiMH batteries
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Wikipedia - LithIon
Wikipedia information on Lithium Ion batteries
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How Stuff Works - Fuel Cells
Description of how fuel cells, specifically Polymer Exchange Membrane Fuel Cells that are likely to be used in motor vehicles, work.
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