Volvo’s electric cars to charge up to 30% faster thanks to spinout’s software


Breathe and Volvo teams

The Breathe and Volvo Cars teams

Adaptive charging software developed by Imperial spinout Breathe Battery Technologies will be integrated with Volvo Cars’ battery management platform.

Battery charging software developed by Imperial spinout Breathe Battery Technologies is to feature in the new generation of fully electric Volvo cars. This is expected to result in even faster charging times and an enhanced driving and charging experience for Volvo customers. 

This is an impressive example of how founders from Imperial are translating our technologies into real-world benefits. Dr Simon Hepworth Director of Enterprise at Imperial

“This is an impressive example of how founders from Imperial are translating our technologies into real-world benefits,” says Dr Simon Hepworth, Director of Enterprise. “Reducing charging times will remove a significant barrier to the adoption of electric vehicles, and so help us move towards a greener, low-carbon future.” 

The sourcing agreement for the software is backed by an investment in Breathe through the Volvo Cars Tech Fund, the company’s corporate venture capital arm.

“The investment and commercial partnership with Breathe helps us address a familiar pain point for electric car customers and makes our charging performance even more competitive,” says Ann-Sofie Ekberg, chief executive of the Volvo Cars Tech Fund. “Faster charging times, in the range where customers typically fast charge, represent a major step in the right direction as we continue to boost electric mobility and make it available to more people.”

Ann-Sofie Ekberg, Ian Campbell, Karin Thorn
Dr Ian Campbell of Breathe Battery Technologies signs the partnership with Ann-Sofie Ekberg (left) and Karin Thorn (right) of Volvo Cars.

The alliance will also open the way for further innovation, according to Dr Ian Campbell, co-founder and chief executive of Breathe Battery Technologies. “Deploying our technology at scale on Volvo’s next generation electric vehicle platform opens doors to innovative car designs and performance improvements,” he says. “We share a profound passion for electric mobility, and convenient, fast charging is one of the cornerstone enablers for the future we strive towards.”

Listen to the battery

The conventional way of charging car batteries involves varying the current according to a pre-determined pattern. In contrast, Breathe’s software uses adaptive charging to dynamically control the battery in real-time, resulting in significantly shorter charging times.

This charging pattern also takes account of the battery’s health, so the process can be optimised while avoiding the risk of lithium plating, which can harm the battery’s performance and lifespan.

Volvo Cars electric powertrain
The batteries, in white, are at the heart of the Volvo Cars electric powertrain.

Breathe’s software will be integrated into the battery management platform developed in-house by Volvo Cars. This is expected to reduce the time it takes for a fully electric Volvo to go from 10% to 80% state of charge by as much as 30%, with no change in energy density and range. These charging time improvements will last across the full life cycle of the battery.

A further attraction for Volvo is that Breathe’s approach reduces charging times without the need to change battery pack design or mine extra materials, avoiding additional environmental impacts. “Since it is fully compatible with the hardware used in our new generation fully electric cars, scaling will be easy, as we expect our electric sales to increase significantly in coming years,” Volvo Cars said.

Imperial’s battery pipeline

Breathe Battery Technologies was founded in 2019 by Dr Ian Campbell, Dr Yan Zhao and Professor Greg Offer, who had worked together in the Electrochemical Science and Engineering group. The company was launched through Imperial’s Founders’ Choice programme, took first place in the energy and environment category of the 2019 Venture Catalyst Challenge, and participated in Undaunted’s climate innovation accelerator, now known as The Greenhouse. In 2021 it raised £1.5 million in seed funding, following up with a $10 million (£7.85 million) Series A funding round in October 2023.

“This is just one in a series of exciting battery and electric vehicle technology companies to emerge from Imperial’s startup pipeline in recent years,” says Dr Hepworth. “When we see their innovations adopted by major industry players such as Volvo Cars, we know that our carefully curated startup ecosystem is giving them a solid basis for future success.”


Ian Mundell

Ian Mundell


Enterprise, Comms-strategy-Entrepreneurial-ecosystem, Net-Zero, Entrepreneurship, Transport
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