Battery Technology – The Future Of Electric Cars

MAR 27 2015 BY STAFF 66

Want to know the future of electric cars? First you have to understand where battery technology is going, and more importantly—when. You think, if Tesla is selling fast, long-range EVs today, and Chevy has announced its “200-mile” Bolt, why can’t BMW build its own new 200-mile i-model before 2020?

Why, indeed.


You may have heard about the remarkable Envia lithium-ion battery, or should I say the rise and fall of said infamous battery. The story bears repeating, because it explains a lot about the pitfalls of EV development (and marketing)—why some electric car manufacturers make claims that are aggressively optimistic, while others have more conservatively opted for the battery in hand, over the two prettier ones in the bush.



A lithium ion is a charged particle, a few atoms with the negatively-charged electrons and positively-charged protons not balancing out. A lithium-ion battery is a fairly simple device, as long as you ignore the details and permutations. Lithium-ion batteries have two electrodes (one with a positive charge and the other negative) separated by a typically liquid electrolyte that enables the flow of charged lithium ions from one electrode to the other. The electrodes are labeled either cathode or anode, depending on which way the current is flowing—charging or discharging.

Editor’s Note: This post, authored by Chris Llana, appears on BMWBLOG. Check it out here.

Lithium in its elemental state is a metal—a very combustible metal. So lithium ion batteries generally use a safer lithium compound instead (for example—Lithium Cobalt Oxide (LiCoO2)). The lithium compound is in the cathode; the anode has traditionally been graphite. A good battery, but pretty low energy density, particularly for electric cars. If you want long range, that basic battery would need to be really heavy.

So, back to the Envia story. Two engineers founded the company in 2007, on the strength of a cathode patent licensed from the Argonne National Laboratory (a U.S. government facility outside Chicago). That nickel, manganese, and cobalt (NMC) -based cathode yielded a battery with a 66% better performance than standard Li-ion batteries.

That got them initial funding, and they started working to turn Argonne’s discovery into something commercial. But by 2009, however, their marketing efforts had not borne fruit, and they were about to go belly up. They turned to their venture capitalist for help, bringing him in as CEO of the company, along with another bit of cash.

If they could win a government competition with their battery tech, they thought the resulting grant would solve their money problems. The new cathode they developed yielded a 280 watt-hour per kilogram (Wh/kg) battery. (watt-hour is a measure of energy) That laboratory performance was very good, but certainly not jaw-dropping.



But for the competition, they added a silicon-carbon anode—a potential game changer. A standard graphite anode can absorb only so many lithium ions. Silicon, however, can absorb a LOT more—ten times more than graphite. Each lithium ion represents so much energy. The more of them you can move from one electrode to the other, the more energy you can store. So silicon is big!

Which is the problem, really. During the charge/discharge cycle, the insertion of the lithium ion into the silicon causes it to expand 400%. Unless you can accommodate that expansion, the electrode self-destructs, pulverizes (like water freezing in a pipe, only much worse). The battery would give you great range, but only for a couple of charge cycles.

The Envia engineers thought they could solve the problem. They built their battery and had it tested by an independent lab. It yielded a remarkable 400 Wh/kg! Not only that, but Envia claimed they could build it for half the cost. They got their $4 million grant.

Lots Of Questions

Lots Of Questions

The big boys took notice, to wit, General Motors. Notwithstanding opposition from their engineers (who were suspicious of the small start-up with no track record), the GM brass wanted Envia’s battery for their 2015 model year Volt, and for a planned 2016 BEV with a 200-mile range. It would be a game changer. They started paying Envia $2 million per quarter to commercialize the battery. For the 200-mile EV, GM needed a 350 Wh/kg battery pack that could last 1000 cycles with little degradation.  That went in the contract; the battery also had to be ready by October 2013, with a further 10 months allowed for final optimization. After that, no changes.

When the time came and Envia’s battery was tested, it failed miserably, not coming close to the earlier test results. On its face, that is. For the government competition, Envia had claimed their battery yielded 400 Wh/kg, and that it had been tested to 300 charge/discharge cycles. True. What they had not revealed was that the 400 Wh/kg figure was only produced for the first three charge cycles. The stored energy dropped precipitously after that. By cycle 300, the battery was only good for 237 Wh/kg. The culprit, of course, was the extreme volumetric expansion. Envia had not been able to devise a fix.

It also turned out that the anode material was not proprietary to Envia, as had been claimed, but had secretly been sourced from a Japanese supplier. Envia’s founders had hoped they could solve the problems in time, had hoped they would become hugely rich, but their miracle had not come home. They had even kept Envia’s CEO in the dark.

It would seem that GM’s plans for the Envia battery to power its 200-mile car in 2016 had been smashed, but GM claimed it had an alternative battery in the wings. One report, however, suggested that it was too expensive. Another speculated that the car might show up as early as 2018. GM hasn’t shed any light.

There are other possibilities, of course (but not for 2016—maybe a few years later).

California Lithium Battery (CalBattery)

In 2009, another small company — California Lithium Battery (CalBattery) — started having discussions with a scientist at Argonne National Labs (them again). Those discussions ultimately led to the Argonne scientist becoming the Chief Technical Officer for CalBattery, to lead the development of his patented lithium-ion anode into a commercial product.

That anode also used silicon to greatly increase the energy density of the battery, but adopted a novel approach to accommodate the 400% volume change during the charge/discharge cycle. The Argonne scientist had discovered that a gas deposition process to embed silicon into a graphene matrix could provide enough cushion to prevent the pulverization of the electrode. (Graphene is a two-dimensional hexagonal lattice with one carbon atom at each vertex—basically a one-atom thick form of carbon, with remarkable properties.)



In the fall of 2012, CalBattery had produced a sample battery and announced it had been independently tested to store 525 Wh/kg of energy. By comparison, commercial lithium batteries at that time had energy densities between 100 and 180 Wh/kg. This was huge news! In February 2013, CalBattery said it could make the anode material commercially available by 2014.

By December 2013, however, CalBattery said it was working to scale up production, and expected to produce anode material in commercial quantities “in a few years.” Initially working toward supplying its battery tech for use in EVs, CalBattery later shifted its focus to consumer electronics, which would bring in revenue faster. They discovered that getting its batteries into EVs could take up to seven years. EV batteries are made up of many cells. The cell would have to be proven, and then the battery pack would have to be developed and tested, and then the car would have to be tested—extensively. Car makers are very focused on product liability issues.

By the middle of 2014, CalBattery had teamed up with another small company called CALEB, pooling their respective cutting edge battery chemistries. They have been scaling up their production methods, with the goal of keeping costs down. They are now optimizing their third-generation continuous-flow reactor (a proven design adopted from another industry). They hope to be producing thousands of tons by around 2018. Some OEMs have already been given samples for testing, and one large corporation has reportedly tasked them with building a cell phone battery.

This effort seems one of the most promising over the next five years, but it is just one of many, mainly government and academic research programs ongoing worldwide, all working to solve a piece of the puzzle. The academic people are publishing their results, perhaps trolling for financing. The government scientists want their work to end up in a product. The big corporations, on the other hand, are pretty quiet about their progress.


Secretive may be a more apt description. VW recently acquired a 5% stake in a Silicon Valley start-up called QuantumScape, a company that is pioneering a solid-state lithium battery based on Stanford University research. Neither the company nor VW is offering a description of the battery, but a number of people have done some research into patents and some of the Stanford research conducted by the founders of QuantumScape; the clues are compelling.

The new battery might use something called the All-Electron Battery (AEB) effect—no ions shuttling back and forth, just speedy electrons. A thin film of a synthetic material called antiperovskite could be involved, doped with aluminum material, which could enable the use of metallic lithium (instead of a lithium compound). All of which would give a very high energy density, and very little degradation with repeated charge/discharge cycles—thousands of them.

VW has suggested this new technology could give their e-Golf a 700-kilometer range, more than triple what it is now. VW says development and testing are progressing enough to permit a decision on its future use by this July. Another intriguing development.

With batteries having up to 500 Wh/kg energy densities potentially coming within the next five years, what sort of energy densities do we have now?

Panasonic Cell

Panasonic Cell


Tesla leads the pack with its small Panasonic cylindrical cells (thousands of them in a pack). 233 Wh/kg. These are the same sorts of cells used in consumer electronics, which generally have higher energy densities, but at the expense of longevity and safety. When the battery in your cell phone dies, just buy a new battery or upgrade to a new phone. No big deal, and the life-span of consumer electronics is typically a couple of years. Not so with cars, but Tesla has done a good job of managing the downsides through active cell monitoring, and careful design to limit heat build-up and protect the cells from puncture. Because the individual cells are so small, each produces a very small amount of energy, so if cooled effectively, there is less chance for a fire.


Other manufacturers are using large format cells for EVs (simpler to package), and therefore need to use battery chemistries that are inherently safer. The tradeoff is lower energy density.

Panasonic also supplies battery cells for the VW e-Golf, although these are larger prismatic cells having an energy density of 170 Wh/kg. VW says its short-term roadmap is projecting an increase to 220 Wh/kg.

Nissan-Renault have been using batteries made by NEC (but they seem to be shifting to LG Chem). The current LEAF batteries have an energy density of 155 Wh/kg; the Renault Zoe gets a 157 Wh/kg battery.

The Smart EV uses a 152 Wh/kg battery from Deutsche/ACCUmotive.

The Mitsubishi i-Miev uses a battery from Lithium Energy Japan (GS Yuasa/Mitsubishi) — 109 Wh/kg.

The Bosch/Samsung battery used in the Fiat 500e is rated at 132 Wh/kg.

The Toshiba lithium-ion battery used in the Honda Fit EV comes in last with an energy density of just 89 Wh/kg.

The source for most of these values did not have a rating for BMW’s i3 battery. I found another reference that listed the energy density for the i3 as 95 Wh/kg. (not sure if this is for the cell or the pack) Samsung says the nickel-cobalt-manganese cells used in the i3 have the industry’s highest volumetric energy density (Wh/per liter). In other words, heavy, but they don’t take up much space.

The choice of any particular battery chemistry is a compromise. Car manufacturers not only look at energy density, but also safety, longevity, power density (rate of energy release), charging rate, reliability, and cost.

They want a battery supplier they trust, with a reputation to uphold, and having the resources to perform on a contract. Those qualities make it unlikely that one individual would be able to make overly optimistic claims (and get away with it). Those qualities, however, also tend to favor an incremental development path to new technology, rather than relying on the proverbial big scientific breakthrough. It may be that the small startup actually achieves the breakthrough, but would a BMW bet on that before it’s been proven?

Samsung SDI

BMW’s lithium-ion battery partner is Samsung SDI, which is collaborating with the United States Advanced Battery Consortium (headed by General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler) to develop a new lithium-ion battery. According to Samsung SDI’s technology roadmap, they expect to produce an advanced cell having an energy density of about 250 Wh/kg, sometime around 2019. Until that time, their roadmap shows a battery chemistry with just 130 Wh/kg. (!)

Samsung Investment Ventures Corp. has also provided funding to Seeo, a company that is developing advanced lithium polymer batteries. Their cells, which use a non-flammable solid polymer electrolyte, are now testing at a very respectable 350 Wh/kg, and aiming to achieve 400 Wh/kg.

Assuming BMW will stick with Samsung as its lithium-ion cell provider, it would be crazy for them to plan a new model roll-out before Samsung’s 250 Wh/kg battery becomes available in commercial quantities (circa 2019-2020).

Will there be 400 Wh/kg batteries available before then, or in the same time frame.  Hopefully, yes. Should BMW plan on designing a new i model based on a small company’s predictions? Probably not. Should they be tracking those developments and testing any available samples? Absolutely. Undoubtedly Samsung is doing the same thing, and would be ready to license the best proven technology, if available at a commercially attractive price. But changing batteries late in the planning, design, and engineering development process for a new car model would be chaotic, to say the least.

Samsung SDI Roadmap

Samsung SDI Roadmap

Battery progress drives the release of new BEV models. Whether to meet cost targets, range targets, or performance targets, the development of successful new EV models will be driven by the performance of the batteries that are commercially available. That holds true for the Tesla Model 3, the Bolt, and BMW’s next new i model.

Modern electric cars are at a very early stage in their development, and yet they are already so good that we want much more, and we want it now. More models, more performance, more range, less weight, and of course much cheaper. But we understand all this is new, so we’re willing to wait a year or two to get all that. Ha!

You haven’t seen anything yet. Wait five years, or ten—lithium-sulfur batteries are on the way, and after that, lithium-air! Or maybe they’ll all be blown away by something else.


Categories: Battery Tech

Tags: ,

Leave a Reply

66 Comments on "Battery Technology – The Future Of Electric Cars"

newest oldest most voted

No mention of Eestor, LOL. 🙂

That oversight will be corrected at some point in the near term.

It seems odd that:

The Panasonic 18650 cells were not forecast for their future higher density.

No mention of the Tesla design cells that are about 10% larger than the 18650.

22mm x 7cm

I’m still of the opinion that current technology is “good enough” and if you want more range at a reasonable price, go for a small range-extender.

Just because something is “good enough” doesn’t mean you stop working to improve it.

I think we need to get to where a BEV plug-in drive train cost the same as an ICE drive train. That’s before subsidies. I’ll go with a 100 mile BEV, since that’s a nice round number and a good commuter car range.

Other targets would be decreasing the refueling time to be more on par.. but this has more to do w/long range travel, and where PHEV’s shine.

“Good enough” just means that there should be very fertile and competitive EV markets with electric range 200 to 300 miles or 150 miles + REx. But there is still none. Tesla Model S entered to markets in 2012 and there is still no competion in horizon.

“Good enough” also means that about half or more than half of all R&D resourses should be directed on electric car and battery research and development. But today only small fraction of a percent of R&D spending in car industry is used for developing electric car technology.

What I find strange about this is the Mitsubishi i-miev has one of the lowest battery densities at 109 Wh/kg. While the Honda Fit has 89Wh/kg

The Nissan Leaf meanwhile is at 150 Wh/kg

The Tesla has 200 Wh/kg

Seeing this new data really does change my views on creating a 200 mile range EV. Maybe we don’t need to find super battery as much as we think we do.

Such as in the case of the Honda Fit and Mitsubishi i-miev they could in theory be upgraded to 200 or 150 mile range cars by swapping out their old low density batteries and upgraded with 200 Wh/kg batteries.

What’s really stupid is Mitsubishi could turn the i-miev into a 100 mile range car by using batteries with the energy density of the leaf at 150 Wh/kg. Not to mention Honda could jump in and send the leaf kicking and screaming to the cleaners. In that the Honda fit has a 80 mile range even though it has the lowest density batteries on the market. Think of what the Honda Fit would become if it has 200 W/kg batteries.

Well said.

The issue of battery energy density (ED) is often overstated. A lower ED just means you need a physically bigger battery. The primary factor limiting the number of kWh in current plug-in EVS is cost, not ED.

Of course, there is a limit to battery size. Too big, and the entire vehicle has to be unreasonably large. If that wasn’t the case, we could still be using deep cycle lead-acid batteries, like the first generation GM EV1 did.

As I understand it, the main reason battery makers focus on ED is that if you can increase it, you can make a battery holding more energy for about the same cost. And -that- is where the real innovation comes in.

I agree 100% here if you’re talking about getting more options to market TODAY. It is safe to say that people will never stop trying to make batteries better, but why slow down new product cycles waiting for the golden egg battery.

What this story is telling me is that we might not need to go after the golden egg super battery after all. Such as the Mitsubishi i-miev and the Honda fit have very low energy densities in their batteries compared to the Nissan Leaf and Tesla. If they swapped out their batteries for more higher end batteries they could easily become 150 mile range EV’s.

I’m confused.

Both GM and Nissan sound 100% confident that they’ll have double-range BEVs in market within 2-2.5 years max.

Are they bluffing? If not, whose battery are they sourcing and what is its density? Have LG managed to match Panasonic performance without broadcasting the fact?

all 3 are expected to have 3500+ mAh 18650 cells this summer NCR18650G, INR18650-MJ1,INR18650-35E. Do they release same density in other form factors for automotive use thats the question.

buu: thanks for the information about new >12Wh 18650 cells from LG,Samsung and Panasonic.

I am nearly sure that LG is bluffing about his new high capacity (>20Ah) cells for “200mile” Sonic/Bolt and Leaf. In 2016 they will finally release “with fame” their already existing 18650 cells (maybe 26650 or similar size) but definitely it will be small cylindrical cells with capacity bellow 5Ah.

In one way it is a great that we will finally get 200mile range EVs, but the fact is that 18650 cells capable of 200mile range are here comercially available from 2012…

Assaf asked: “Both GM and Nissan sound 100% confident that they’ll have double-range BEVs in market within 2-2.5 years max. “Are they bluffing? If not, whose battery are they sourcing and what is its density? Have LG managed to match Panasonic performance without broadcasting the fact?” There is speculation that LG Chem has managed to do what Envia tried to do, but failed. However, LG is keeping mum on exactly what they plan to be producing. All they’ve said is a “200 mile” battery, which is actually meaningless. It’s always been possible to cram a lot of batteries into a small car if you want to have longer range. Perhaps the only thing going on here is that various auto makers finally think the price has reached a tipping point at which it’s worth putting a lot more kWh into the EV. Perhaps it’s just a case of the cost/benefit analyses passing a threshold beyond which they think it will pay to put in a much bigger battery. Or, perhaps LG Chem really has produced a quantum leap in battery tech. It’s happened before: Lead-acid –> NiCad –> NiMH –> li-ion –> li-ion polymer. Either way, I doubt LG Chem… Read more »

It’s hard to keep track of all the battery developments going on but it would have been good to hear more about what LG Chem is doing. Their cells in the 2016 Volt are rumored to be around 180 Wh per kg. They plan to produce new large format cells for at least the GM 200-mile “Bolt” EV and perhaps similar cars from others (they might possibly supply a 150+ mile LEAF) using presumably even more energy dense cells.

Another company to mention on solid state Lithium batteries would be Sakti3 which made public claims this year about being ready to supply consumer electronics next year and EV batteries in 2-3 years that are 2-3x today’s energy density at low cost. They just got a $15 million investment from Dyson to get an exclusive supply of batteries for cordless vacuums. GM is also an early investor.

The great thing is that there appear to be multiple technology paths from multiple companies for achieving further big near-term energy density and cost reductions. Even if some fail to deliver there is a good chance that at least one technology will work out successfully.

When was it the last time the auto industry funded or did serious researches on batteries?


Tesla is certainly funding development of advanced batteries, to be produced at the Gigafactory. Nissan was building its own batteries, and perhaps still is to a limited extent. BYD is probably doing battery R&D, too.

There are probably several more auto makers out there that I’m not aware of, currently doing battery R&D.

But you’ve already had your question answered: Today.

The surest, cheapest way to double performance of batteries is to halve the energy requirements of the car. After all, that is what is actually needed.

The global fleet of cars has gone up one order of magnitude, 10 times, since I started driving, and could yet double before we reach economic collapse. No possible source of energy will meet the demand for that many cars using 200-300 Wh/mile.

Smaller, lighter, more aerodynamic cars using 100-150 Wh/mile have already been built, using current battery technology.

Minds can be changed, the laws of physics can not.

If all german cars whould be EVs tomorrow, we would need around 10% more current (in germany) compared to today.

I think in other countries it’s around the same.

Reduce consumption by half? Sure, drive half the speed! Limit max speed globaly to 30-40 mph. Lol, this seems unrealistic.

Mr. M,

You haven’t addressed the fact that the vast majority of people are still working to get their own cars. And when they do the demand for energy will be unreachable.

For a half a century people drove cars that weighed 1200 pounds, and had a max speed of 40 mph, like the Model T Ford, and Citroen 2CV, the two most popular cars in history. How much more important have we become that we need to go twice as fast?

8.8 million 2CVs were made, 16.5 million Model T’s 21 million Beetles and in 1997 Toyota sold it’s 22.6 millionth Corolla.

As a percentage of the vehicles on the road at the time they were much more popular. With our vastly bigger population, and car ownership you are right. Picking out my wife’s Corolla in a parking lot is often a challenge. 🙂

Warren said:

“The surest, cheapest way to double performance of batteries is to halve the energy requirements of the car. After all, that is what is actually needed.”

Half the energy of pushing a car down the highway at 55 MPH comes from wind resistance. So, reducing energy consumption by half is physically impossible. You can’t reduce wind resistance to zero, nor even substantially reduce it below what is currently achieved.

Or did you intend to compare EVs to gas guzzlers? Sure, EVs are much more efficient in using available energy. That’s not the same thing at all as reducing the energy necessary to propel the car; it’s just wasting a lot less of the energy available.

Warren said:

“Minds can be changed, the laws of physics can not.”

That’s correct. Seems odd that you’re ignoring your own Truth.

“Smaller, lighter, more aerodynamic cars using 100-150 Wh/mile have already been built, using current battery technology.”

I guess you missed this sentence.

*lol*…getting the energy is no problem. 6 billion cars globally (that is where it will probably end growing), all being BEV’s would mean at 0,2 kWh per km and an average of 1500 km per year driven that we we would need about 1800 TWh for the global cars.

That is 180 nuclear reactors (or however you want to generate it). France alone once built 60 in 15 years.
The world could easily tripple what France did.

After reading Steve Levine’s “Powerhouse”, to which much of the above post is obviously in debt, I’m extremely skeptical of any near term commercialization/break throughs. Batteries will improve, but my anticipation that batteries will behave like Moore’s Law has been shattered.

This blog says it it all.

You don’t meed to argue about little details. We are orders of magnitude away from being able to continue as we have. No wishful thinking can change that.

I would have to disagree with some aspects of that link there. A lot of counties in Europe have stopped growing and are losing population. While at the same time energy efficiency and solar panels are taking chunks out of energy demand.

I do agree though that the world will not keep getting richer forever. But I don’t believe it’s going to fall apart unless we are hit by a comet or something.

There are many entries there. He has written pieces covering population, energy, economics, etc. Have you actually read them all?

I’ve read a bunch of his stuff. He believes that electric vehicles will NOT be a transformative revolution!!! I wouldn’t take his blog musings as gospel.

“Electric cars are in a whole different place than they were ten years ago. I expect continued progress on this front—although falling short of a transformative revolution, I suspect.”

Scientists say we must leave 82% of remaining fossil fuels in the ground to avoid climate catastrophe. Let’s assume they are being hysterical, and we only need to leave half in the ground. They tell us we have used approximately half since the invention of the steam engine. They tell us we have about 50 years to bring our CO2 to zero.

So in one fifth of the time it took to create the entire modern world we need to completely rebuild the global infrastructure, using half as much fossil fuel energy as we have so far.

Does that sound like driving to the mall in cars, only run on electricity, to anybody here?

Moore’s law never accounted for Big Oil /ICE car makers cartel’s continous pressures.

Why do you expect other technology to follow Moore’s law? That is absurd. We would have ICE cars that have 1,000,000 hp and drive for 10 years on one 20 gal tank of gas! Or, if the strength of steel increased at that rate, you could build a 50 story building with only a few hundred pounds of steel.

Get real already.


Patience for improved battery technology is something I can’t afford. When my 12 Leaf’s lease expires this September, I had hoped for a 150-mile or even a true 100-mile range EV to appear by then. But there won’t be any. My Leaf’s ACTUAL range has never met Nissan’s claims, and its degradation to to age (cycles) and cold weather mean that its cold-weather range (if filled to 100%) is only 42 miles or so. And this is on a ’12-bar’ car, in Leaf-speak. It is degrading about 3x faster than a Tesla battery, and I’d attribute this to the Leaf requiring many more deep cycles for the same driving. I’ve mentioned much of this here before, but it’s relevant to me as a buyer because: 1. I don’t trust Nissan’s range claims. 2. Other mfr’s EVs with 80+ mile range (Kia Soul EV) don’t sell in my state (PA). Compliance cars don’t interest me. 3. At 6’6″, I need a car I can fit into, not a tiny car like a Spark EV. 4. I can’t afford a Tesla, which would solve my EV performance questions. 5. If my 18-mile round-trip commute changes (i.e. job), I don’t want to be… Read more »

What about a Kia SoulEV ?

As I mentioned above, the Soul EV is a compliance car not sold in PA. I’m a Kia partisan, but I’m grouchy about their slow deployment of this car.

Yes, the Kia Soul EV must be built for compliance, however, Kia is actively going outside the CARB-ZEV states to:

Georgia (although that might stop with the $5000 credit removed)




What would happen – if you bought your Kia Soul in Canada? Just take a drive up here to To Toronto – we have 3 Soul EV Dealers in the area – see for your choice!

I have a Friend who bought his vehicle (Highlander Hybrid, Used, eBay) in the states, so maybe you could buy (New, Soul EV) in Canada?


A 2016 Volt is a candidate – maybe. The back seat is really, really small, and I often transport 5 actual people.

Buy a used cheap ICE and place an order for Tesla3 when possible (soon). In 2-3 years you will have your EV.
Tesla can’t be late with gen3. Gigafactory costs too much.

I am seriously considering this path.

My one concern about the Model 3 is interior room. Nobody even knows what it will look like. In spite of its size, the Model S doesn’t offer a lot of headroom (I barely fit), so I’m worried that the Model 3 will meet the 200-mile range target at the expense of interior room.

My 12 Leaf lease ends in December 2015, so I will be in your shoes, I’m thinking of extending my lease for a year if dealership agrees.

I just received an offer for $5000 of the lease buyout (won’t happen), or a 1-year lease extension. You will likely receive the same offer.

I don’t think I can take another winter of severely reduced range, so I won’t likely extend the lease.

So get another two-year lease. After that, you should indeed be able to buy an EV that has a real-world range of more than 100 miles.

Good article. Thank you, InsideEVs.

Great thank you to Inside EV staff for this article. There are a lot of remarkable informations inside but there is also one big issue with it. This issue is very common in these days on internet and it is called: “Obsession with gravimetric density of Li-ion cells”. And to and make it absolutely clear I will show an example on BMW i3. BMW i3 have NEDC weight of 1270kg (1195kg car + 68kg driver + 7kg baggage). The whole battery pack of BMW i3 weighs 230kg (ca 30kg is aluminium case, 20kg for module holders,wiring,thermal management so the cells weighs ca 180kg). If you doubles the gravimetric energy density of the used cells, the whole battery pack then will be 90kg lighter and what does it mean for you? 1) You got better accel rate 6,9s instead of current 7,2s 0-100km/h 2) You got better driving range of about 5 miles NEDC Is this what you realy want? We can make contrary example: If you reduces the gravimetric energy density of the used cells by half, the whole battery pack then will be 180kg heavier and what does it mean for you? 1) You got worse accel rate 8,5s… Read more »

Indeed, gravimetric energy density (ED) is pretty unimportant. Carrying a car full of passengers would have about the same effect as doubling the weight of most battery packs, or more. Does car pooling reduce the range of your EV? Slightly, but not much.

Volumetric ED is much more important. A larger battery means the car has to be bigger to hold it, and a bigger car is a substantially more expensive one… not to mention one that needs a bigger motor, and thus an even bigger battery pack to power it.

The reason we focus on gravimetric density is because that in general it tracks well with volumetric (for the same type of chemistry/form factor) so it’s a useful benchmark for judging the improvements of a certain chemistry.

The second reason is as you have noticed: trying to get volumetric data is a lot harder than gravimetric.

The information that the volumetric energy density track the gravimetric may not be true in all cases. For example presented “already working” Li-S (lithium-sulfur) chemistry cells from Sion Power have great gravimetric density of about 350 Wh/kg (compare to 250 Wh/kg in today best 18650 NCA chemistry cells). But, the volumetric density of these cells is only about 320 Wh/l. (725 Wh/l in 18650 NCA).

There is no problem with getting data of volumetric energy density, the problem is that the only person in the whole world which is asking for this parameter its me 🙂

The fact is that informations about success in achieving better gravimetric energy density is for the question about higher driving range of EV completely useless. At least until we will reach 1000 Wh/l volumetric energy density in common available cells.

David Murray said:

“I’m still of the opinion that current technology is ‘good enough’ and if you want more range at a reasonable price, go for a small range-extender.”

The tech is only “good enough” to make a compelling car as expensive as the Model S. In the broader EV market, the tech is still stuck in the early adopter stage. Most new car buyers are not even considering an EV, and the market share for plug-in EVs has only just now crept up to 1% of all new car sales.

The time will come when PEV sales will be growing exponentially year after year, and it will be obvious to everyone that PEVs are well on their way to overtaking gas guzzler sales. Only then will it be meaningful to say the tech is “good enough”.

I’m confused; the byline on this article says “Inside EVs Staff”, but then a note within the article says “authored by Chris Llana”.

Well, to whoever wrote this: Thank you very much! This is perhaps best-written article I’ve ever seen on the near-term future of battery tech, giving a broad overview of the current state of the art, and what’s on the horizon that looks promising. And all that without getting too deeply into technical issues that would leave most readers behind.

This article is getting Bookmarked.

Warren said:

“You haven’t addressed the fact that the vast majority of people are still working to get their own cars. And when they do the demand for energy will be unreachable.”

Where did you get such an idea? It’s said that if all cars in the USA were switched to EVs, the increase in electrical power demand wouldn’t be any greater (percentage-wise) than when companies and home-owners in our country installed central air conditioning. You may note we got thru that with not even much increase in the rates for electricity.

Electricity isn’t like oil or gas. It’s not a finite resource. We can always build out more electrical generating capacity.

You keep talking about the USA as if it exists in a bubble. We are not the only people using the world’s energy supplies.

“Electricity isn’t like oil or gas. It’s not a finite resource. We can always build out more electrical generating capacity.”

This post explains the problem better than I could in this tiny space.

The “Do The Math” professor guy totally disregards nuclear energy, especially next gen nuclear technology including integral fast breeder reactors and molten salt thorium reactors. Like they say, those who can’t do teach. This guy is not infallible.

Like I mentioned in a post above, the “Do The Math” professor guy believes that electric vehicles will NOT be a transformative revolution.

He says the following:
“Electric cars are in a whole different place than they were ten years ago. I expect continued progress on this front—although falling short of a transformative revolution, I suspect.”

sven, You are right that he does not believe EVs will be a transformative revolution. And he spends much time describing why the physics suggests this is so. He also writes about the problems with nuclear power. I am not a physicist, as he is, but many years ago I worked as a laborer on the construction of one of our local plants. It was plaqued with shoddy construction, and accounting fraud. A few years ago it was hit by an earthquake that the builders had assured everyone had never happened before, and therefore would never happen. One of the things that quake revealed was that it was built right over a fault that they had not known existed before. A few pipes leaked steam, but no big deal. The worst scare was the spent fuel rods moving around in the glorified swimming-pool-in-a-metal-shed that is the “temporary” storage facility until such time as some state decides to store all our waste. The utility is eager to build another plant on that fault, just as soon as the public are prepared to accept all future liability. It seems no insurance company or other private investors are willing to take the… Read more »

“Like I mentioned in a post above, the “Do The Math” professor guy believes that electric vehicles will NOT be a transformative revolution.”

He is not alone. This guy is also skeptical.

He is the head of Energy Storage and Distributed Resources at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. By now he may have bought that Volt he was considering, but he didn’t think EVs were practical two years ago.

He hasn’t written anything in tw

Instead of blogging, why doesn’t the good professor write a scientific research paper and have his theories subjected to peer review? That would give him and his theories some credibility.

Yeah, I get it. You don’t believe academics.

But what about the battery chemist who runs a project developing batteries? He is saying the same stuff about EVs.

Not supporting the blogs of two academics does not equal not belief in academics.

We can all find quite a few PhDs to support our position.

I get frustrated with the nature of discussions about this stuff. People either think there is NO problem, or they think there IS a problem, but we can fix it with just a few tweaks, like electric drivetrains, and a few more nuke plants. Nothing that would require any inconvenience.

I imagine the pyramid builders arguing about whether they need to change the slope on them, or if everything is perfect just as it is.

Here’s a thought…why don’t battery and car manufacturers come to an agreement to a removable standard battery pack? Then range will not be a problem, when you can go to a “Station” and do a battery swop instead of waiting for a re-charge. Also as battery technology improves, you can opt to a higher spec. battery; just like rechargable AA, AAA, batteries…We started with 600mAh NiCd’s now we have 2500mAh Hybrids. I changed battery types but I’m still using the same old torch, radio and even digital camera etc.