Here’s How To Slash The Cost Of A Tesla Model S By $6,000

4 months ago by Mark Kane 11

Power Savings in a Vehicle has a Greater Impact on Battery Size and Weight Reduction

Power Savings in a Vehicle has a Greater Impact on Battery Size and Weight Reduction

Silicon Carbide Power Electronics Can Slash $6,000 From Cost of Tesla Model S

Silicon Carbide Power Electronics Can Slash $6,000 From Cost of Tesla Model S

Lux Research in its latest report entitled “Silicon vs. WBG: Demystifying Prospects of GaN and SiC in the Electrified Vehicle Markethighlights the advantages of silicon carbide (SiC) and gallium nitride (GaN) power electronics, which enables a huge cost savings.

Both materials are wide bandgap (WBG) materials, which used in power electronics are much more efficient than silicon and because small losses, which always are turned into heat, the whole device can be smaller and lighter.

According to Lux Research, as early as 2020 SiC could be displacing silicon in electric vehicles (EVs).

Lux Research stated that 20% power savings on a Tesla Model S can result in over $6,000 in battery cost reductions, or 8% of the vehicle’s cost.

Power electric already is very efficient (at least ~ 90%) so even reducing losses by 10 times we gain maybe 9% (plus less weight), but the high savings comes from smaller a battery pack at the same range. And because Tesla has the largest battery pack, the savings will be the highest.

Pallavi Madakasira, Lux Research Analyst and the lead author of the report, stated:

“Efficient power electronics is key to a smaller battery size, which in turn has a positive cascading impact on wiring, thermal management, packaging, and weight of electric vehicles.”

“In addition to power electronic modules, opportunities from a growing number of consumer applications — such as infotainment and screens — will double the number of power electronic components built into a vehicle.”

Lux Research released a few predictions for commercial roll-outs of WBG-based power electronics, among which we see:

  • Power saving threshold lower for EVs. At 2% power savings, if battery costs fall below $250/kWh, SiC diodes will be the only economic solution in EVs requiring a large battery, such as the Tesla Model S. However, for plug-in electric vehicles (PHEVs), the threshold power savings needs to be a higher 5%.
  • SiC ahead in road to commercialization. SiC diodes lead GaN in technology readiness and will attain commercialization sooner, based on the current Technology Readiness Level (TRL). Based on the TRL road map, SiC diodes will be adopted in vehicles by 2020.
  • Government funding is driving WBG adoption. The U.S., Japan and the United Kingdom, among others, are funding research and development in power electronics. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Power Electronics and Electric Motors is spending $69 million this year and defining performance and cost targets; the Japanese government funds a joint industry and university R&D program that includes Toyota, Honda and Nissan.
High-Performance Silicon Carbide-based Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle Battery Charger

High-Performance Silicon Carbide-based Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle Battery Charger

Thanks to Green Car Congress we came on the trail of a demo 6 kW silicon carbide (SiC) on-board charger for a plug-in Toyota Prius, which now is a pocket charger!

“APEI, Toyota, Cree, Oak Ridge National Labs, the University of Arkansas, and ARPA-e are working to change the face of Plug-In Electric Vehicles. This team has create a silicon carbide based battery charger, which features power capability of over 6 kWs, 95%+ efficiency, and ultra-high power density of 5 kW/L and 3.8 kW/kg. The new Level 2 isolated on-board vehicular battery charger utilizes silicon carbide power devices for application in electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. The heart of the charger is APEI’s 1 MHz+ high-frequency capable multi-chip power module allowing for 200 °C+ high junction temperature operation which, when coupled with high switching frequency, allows for an order of magnitude increase in power density — with a simultaneous increase in system efficiency over currently used technologies. This new technology will translate to faster charging times and decreased dependence on fossil-based fuels for the end user.”

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13 responses to "Here’s How To Slash The Cost Of A Tesla Model S By $6,000"

  1. Cheaper wide bandgap (WBG) materials and power electronics are not only good news for PEVs; but also great news for lowering costs of deploying PEV DC Charging Infrastructure.

    1. Spec9 says:

      Great point! Cheaper power ICs will help a lot in reducing the cost for DC chargers and thus may help increase DC-fast charger deployment by reducing the costs.

  2. Anon says:

    Very cool. :)

  3. liberty says:

    I am not getting the math. gigafactory should be operational before this bringing batter costs bellow $200/kwh. That makes a 85kwh pack cost around $17 for the battery (not including cooling system etc).

    Now I would say its far fetched to believe that this will make an S 9% more efficient as the motors and inverters are already efficient but say you can use a 77 kwh pack instead, that is only 8 kwh or $1600 less. Say we go 200,000 miles at 98 mpge instead of 89 mpge, that only saves 7000 kwh, and even if you pay $0.20/kwh almost double what I do, that only adds anouther $1400 in energy savings. $3K savings is about all I can imagine, but it is likely much less.

    1. DaveMart says:

      These research organisations often have a very strange idea of mathematics.

      Since they don’t go through a peer review process, and to see the methodology behind the figures you normally have to pay several hundred dollars, very unkind people, me for instance, might call them puff pieces with fake ‘research’ as an excuse for the most outlandish claims.

      That does not apply to all of them, for instance when I queried the figures behind a press release by Parsons Brinkerhoff they most kindly sent me a copy of their report, which is normally big bucks! :-)

      Some should be taken about as seriously as tv adverts for ever whiter whites though.

      1. Mint says:

        I agree. These are really outlandish claims. Tesla is not wasting anywhere near 20% of energy in electronics.

        There’s no doubt that SiC and GaN can make better power transistors, but there just isn’t that much room to improve either cost or efficiency.

    2. Josh says:

      The savings they are trying to claim would mostly hit between the wall and you battery, as well as between the battery and the motor (AC-DC, then DC-AC).

      These compound improvements in the battery. The problem with their approach in this report is the claim of the lower cost per car. They should be touting more range per kWh on your house meter.

      It is a space race for more range for everyone not named Tesla.

  4. Spec9 says:

    Will the cost savings really be proportional to the battery size? That seems a bit odd to me. But then again, I guess Tesla does have that massively parallel battery design so they need power electronics for each cell or module.

    I would really think it would depend on how you divide your battery pack into modules.

    1. TomArt says:

      Well, it’s a bit silly, anyway, in my opinion, to frame the issue that way. It doesn’t mean a smaller battery for the same range, it means more range for the same battery. Range is the selling point.

  5. Ryan says:

    I could make a Model 3 out of Model S: Body and drivetrain, with basic interior. Decontent the car to reduce the price. Shrink the Model S down and make it a 2 door if that would make it even cheaper.

    1. Fabian says:

      +1 Love the MOdel S but it has too many wizz-bang features. One could remove all of them and still have a decent ride for ~40k.

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