Detroit Auto Show: Johnson Controls ie:3

Where’s the battery gonna go? That basic question is one that automakers tangle with as they design new electric vehicles. At the North American International Auto Show, Johnson Controls is showing a concept car, the ie:3, that offers new possibilities.

The vehicle features the company’s next-generation, low-profile lithium-ion battery pack, set into a small space under the floor of the vehicle. The company said that by giving designers and engineers a flat floor, they have more space and flexibility to work with in the car’s interior.

ie3, Johnson Controls

image via Johnson Controls

“For example, the ie:3 features “stadium seating” which when deployed in the front row, offers enough space to stow a suitcase,” the company said. “The rear seats easily fold flat to the floor, creating even more storage options. A center console is spacious enough to accommodate a large handbag.”

Johnson Controls added this is accomplished without sacrificing battery capacity by using new lithium-ion prismatic cells that would give the car a 100-mile range on a charge.

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Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.