Tesla Motors response to 200 miles range EVs
A new 100 kWh battery for Tesla Model S and X is Tesla’s answer to differentiate itself from upcoming and cheaper 200 miles range electric cars. Not only Chevrolet Bolt and Nissan Leaf 2.0 but also the future Model III.
With a 100 kWh battery the Model S 100D will certainly have more than 300 EPA miles range. This will set it apart from electric cars with 200 miles range and without supercharger network access.
The Model S with 85 kWh battery used 3.400 mAh cells. Recently it was replaced with a 90 kWh battery and 3.600 mAh cells. Now the 100 kWh battery will be the top of the line made with the most energy density cells in the world.
Let’s see the recent battery evolution:
Panasonic NCR18650B (3.400 mAh) = 85 kWh
Panasonic NCR18650G (3.600 mAh) = 3,6 Ah / 3,4 Ah x 85 kWh = 90 kWh
Panasonic 4.000 mAh = 4 Ah / 3,4 Ah x 85 kWh = 100 kWh
This means that Tesla Motors will soon be using the long promised 4.000 mAh 18650 battery cell made by Panasonic.
The table below is from Panasonic’s website and dated Dec 25, 2009.
Comparison of Newly Developed Products and Previous Panasonic Products
3.4 Ah Cell
4.0 Ah Cell
2.9 Ah Cell
Positive electrode Nickel base
Nickel base Negative electrode Carbon Silicon base Carbon Capacity 3.4 Ah 4.0 Ah 2.9 Ah Average discharge voltage 3.6 V 3.4 V 3.6 V Mass Approx. 46 g Approx. 54 g Approx. 44 g Energy 12.2 Wh 13.6 Wh 10.4 Wh Volumetric energy density 730 Wh/L 800 Wh/L 620 Wh/L Recharging voltage 4.2 V 4.2 V 4.2 V
There is something curious, Panasonic in 2009 expected that the 4 Ah cell would have a lower voltage, 3,4 V instead of 3,6 V but now it seems they were able to increase the capacity and maintain the voltage.
This also means that the expected energy density of 800 Wh/L is now upgraded to 847 Wh/L.
With the GigaFactory bringing slightly bigger cells, I expect the volumetric energy density of Model III cells surpass 900 Wh/L, as we can see in the lecture below at minute 9.
Now with Tesla Motors reaching 3 digit kWh battery capacity, I think that any future energy density increase should be used to reduce the battery weight. This by itself would increase range and performance.
Meanwhile traditional automakers are still using low energy density cells in their electric car batteries. It’s like they are making unappealing low range electric cars on purpose. Of course it can’t be true…
For example current Renault Zoe battery cells are 275 Wh/L and Mitsubishi i-MiEV cells are 218 Wh/L. If they used the best available technology they could easily double or even triple the range.