Tesla as any other premium company is about emotions and sells what you want, not what you need, and this makes it go further.
Currently the 18650 battery cells used in Tesla Model S and X already have the best energy density available. They are rated at 750 Wh/L, which means that with the promised energy density 30 % increase for the new 2170 battery cells, Tesla will reach 975 Wh/L – not far from the four-digit golden figure of 1.000 Wh/L. This is amazing and opens many doors for a completely new world…
Not only higher energy density allows more battery capacity, it also reduce production costs, since we get more capacity from the same raw materials. Tesla now claims that the new 2170 battery cells made possible a 35 % cost reduction per kWh. Before the new cells, the kWh cost at the pack level was already below 190 USD, now Tesla battery packs are at most 120 USD per kWh.
The new battery cells open a lot of new possibilities. While the 30 % energy increase makes possible the 100 kWh battery packs turn into 130 kWh, it makes more sense to keep the 100 kWh figure. The same 100 kWh battery pack made with the new 2170 cells will be cheaper to produce, smaller and lighter. The weight reduction will not only make Tesla cars more efficient and with more range, it will also increase their performance – less time required to accelerate and stop (safer).
While the old times when Tesla electric cars had at least three/four times more range and performance, when compared to other electric alternatives, are unlikely to come again, Tesla is determined to distance itself again from competitors. The first step is already set for next month with the removal of the Tesla Model S 60/60D, which have lower EPA range than the Chevrolet Bolt EV. An electric car from Chevrolet with more range than a Tesla, outrageous right?!
However, most of the next improvements are only possible with the new 2170 battery cells for the Model 3 – and later this year, also available in the Model S and X. What is Tesla is working on?
- Improving the efficiency
Tesla cars have extremely heavy batteries, it’s time to reduce the weight. Furthermore, lighter cars don’t require huge wheels that have enormous rolling resistance and contribute for turbulent drag. The Model 3 will have an extremely impressive 0,21 Cd drag coefficient.
- Improving the range
While battery capacity can go further than 100 kWh, most of the range increase should be obtained from lighter batteries and aerodynamic tweaks.
- Faster DC charging
Elon Musk mocked the new CCS fast chargers capable of “only” 350 kW. Tesla is aiming for at least 450-500 kW… which is ludicrous.
- Better equipment
Tesla Model S and X will definitely get some cool gadgets from the Model 3. For example, I’m thinking for Head-Up Displays (HUD) – which I consider very important for safety – and photovoltaic solar roof – important to reduce the vampire drain effects.
- Better autonomous driving
Tesla is already miles ahead from competition on this field, nevertheless the Tesla Autopilot 2.0, which is almost ready, will make the distance even longer.
- Better interiors
Now that Tesla is saving money from reduced kWh battery costs, it can use it to surpass the refinement available in other premium car interiors.
From all the fronts Tesla is now working to improve, efficiency is definitely the one I care the most.
If the Tesla Model 3 matched the Hyundai IONIQ Electric’s efficiency, it would only need an usable battery capacity of 68 kWh to reach an EPA range of 300 miles (483 km).
To sum up, Tesla is always a step or two ahead from the competition (ICE and electrics). This innovative automaker can make concepts cars planned for 2020 look outdated…
What do you think? Will legacy automakers ever catch up?