Confirmed: Tesla Model S “Will” Get Range-Boosting Battery Upgrade, Says Elon Musk

DEC 26 2014 BY ERIC LOVEDAY 61

Tesla Model S

Tesla Model S

Tesla CEO Elon Musk issued a Tweet stating that the Model S will get a range-boosting battery upgrade similar to the Tesla Roadster, but Musk adds that the upgrade for the S won’t be coming anytime soon.

Musk Tweets

Musk Tweets

What’s long-term?  Well, the Roadster upgrade comes approximately 7 years after its launch, so if a similar timetable is followed for the Model S, then we could expect to see a battery upgrade available by 2019.

By 2019, we fully expect a battery upgrade to be able to boost the range of the Model S into 500-mile territory and hopefully the upgrade will be reasonably priced.  It seems likely then that Tesla will become the first automaker to offer a 400-mile electric car (upgraded Tesla Roadster) and a 500-mile electric car (upgraded Model S).  Both achievements should be accomplished before the end of the decade.

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61 Comments on "Confirmed: Tesla Model S “Will” Get Range-Boosting Battery Upgrade, Says Elon Musk"

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Realist

Watch them offer it extra cheap for 2 reasons:

To show off the supposedly cheap batteries (Musk will say they still make profit selling them without proving any numbers)

And second is to have as many Roadster owners a possible to get new batteries, in order to hide the degeneration of batteries as they age, by taking back old ones.

John F

Getting a great upgrade for an extra low price is the kind of offer every driver wants. I’d like to see Nissan and BMW do this too.

Robert Weekley

The LEAF Price is a Pack Replacement, as far as I can tell, with the same capacity, not an Upgrade in Capacity for that $5500 (Plus returning the old Pack – or pay $1000 Extra). If it was an upgraded Capacity – it is just in terms of upgrading the loss from the old pack, not in higher plated or rated capacity in kWh.

Lustuccc

Or how to make believe a good intent is a bad one. What a nasty comment!

Lustuccc

Straubel said this summer that 30% price decrease would be very easy with the Giga factory and economy of scale. He added that with improved technoloy, it will likely be 50%.
Musk confirmed it on the Q3 conference call

COST REDUCTION: “We felt comfortable with at least a 30 percent reduction in cost just based on the location and economies of scale. That’s without taking any technology improvement into account, and we’ll certainly do technology improvement. If we can’t get to 30 percent without technology improvements, someone should shoot us, because that would be in complete defiance of economies of scale and obvious cost savings.”

Mike

The Greater the Range of the batteries, actually the less need and demand for SuperCharger stations.

Excellent.

John F

I think the need for chargers is proportional to the average miles driven times the number of electric vehicles, and divided by the battery range.

So, the average miles driven and the number of EVs also needs to be considered. Having a vehicle with more electric range increases the average range, because drivers will use that vehicle for long trips rather than fall back on a second vehicle with an ICE. The number of EVs grows yearly and should grow faster when giga factories start delivering batteries.

With these other factors in play, the overall demand for chargers has to increase substantially. The unmet demand is already high.

Lustuccc

I remember not so long ago to have read many disinformations about batteries of electric car that were supposedly doomed to be changed every 3 or 4 years.

It’s been 6 years now for the Roadster and I don’t see any title about bad batteries that need to be changed.
And if I am correct, Priuses Ni-MH batteries still function well in ten years old models.

ffbj

No kidding. What is really funny is no one every gets called on it, they just find some other reason why ev’s are a bad idea.
It is typical approach to argument most often used by radio commentators and such, where they will list a number of things in one sentence in decreasing order of veracity, thereby implying they are all true. For instance they will say something like:
Electric cars are expensive, they are hard to charge, they have limited range, the batteries wear out quickly, etc…

Mike

The “Right” is “never wrong”.
In reality the right is never right.

The easy example is “regulation”, when you say, add a regulation that homes should have double-pane windows at the minimum, the guy that makes single pane windows sees a conspiracy, to not allow him to sell cheap windows at high prices.

Take the Epidemic of Diabetes in this country, then See Sarah Jump to defend Soda.

Take cigarettes and the right’s demand for FREEDOM to sell you Cancer for 20-40 years of PROFIT before you die.

Look at the Republican budget, Cuts to Food Stamps for poor ( white ) people, and increases to Oil Subsidies.

When ever there’s a GOOD Policy, there Will be A Republican $DEFENDING$ Bad Policy.

The Yin/Yang of Politics.

Mike

In other words:
Vast Benefit to the PUBLIC is Outweighed by Profits for the .1%.

Mike

And this is why Democratic policy is Economically better for America.

MrEnergyCzar

300 mile EV range will put an end to gas cars… 400 miles is rubbing it in….

Philip

You must lead a truly miserable life, Realist, frantically seeking out the worst possible twist on everything you read.

GSP

Since the Model S batteries have longer life than the cells used in the Roadster, I would not expect upgraded replacement packs as soon as the Roadster’s 7 years after start of production.

I would guess 10 years, which would be 2022 for upgraded Model S packs.

While Tesla might strive to offer Roadster packs at the lowest possible price, I would not expect anything Tesla offers to be cheap, in terms of either price or quality.

GSP

mhpr262

I doubt we will ever see battery packs that offer more than 400 miles of EPA range. IMHO it’s more likely that any advancements in battery performance beyond that will instead be translated into fewer cells and packs that are lighter and weigh less. Even my gas car with very good gas mileage does not have 400 miles of range. And I have never needed even half that, in six years of driving. Besides, the Model S is quite heavy enough as it is, even without the “D” upgrade.

David Murray

Agreed. Lots of gasoline cars don’t even have that much range. Even my Chevy Volt with a full tank of gas would struggle to go 400 miles.

However, personally I don’t see much point beyond 200 miles. And I’d feel quite comfortable with 120 miles. But that’s probably because I already drive an EV and have a better understanding of how far that would really go. I often find I have conversations with EV skeptics and they say the most ridiculous things like “I wouldn’t switch to an EV unless it could do 1,000 miles per charge.” At which point I ask them how far their gas car will go on a tank and they have no idea.

I’ve found that on a nice 70 degree day, our Leaf has enough range to handle 99% of our driving needs without stopping for a recharge. If it had 100 miles, I think it could handle 100% (with the exception of interstate road trips). In order to handle it on cold days I think 120 miles EPA would be needed.

Josh Bryant

400 miles is slightly more important for the Roadster, since it still will not have the ability to SuperCharge.

The other benefit of the large battery is the significant reduction of cycles and depth of discharge. If the cost of batteries drop significantly, I think most people would choose to have a 200+ mile range.

Take the mythical $100 / kWh, and compare a 30 kWh (~120 AER) to 50 kWh (~200 AER). That would be a $2k OEM cost or $3k retail option. Would you choose the extra range?

Lou Grinzo

IMO, 200 miles is the knee in the curve point for BEVs. As I’ve been saying for years, once you can buy a car roughly the same as a Leaf S in terms of size, trim level, etc., with a 200-mile battery for $20,000 (after all incentives and tax breaks), then people will flee from gasoline, diesel, CNG, hydrogen, etc. in droves.

Perhaps that price is too low, and it only has to get down to $25,000 before we hit the tipping point.

There’s a very good chance we’ll find out if I’m right in just a few years. This is going to be a lot of fun, assuming you’re not tied to one of the losing technologies.

Alex

LOL? In Europe the midsize sedans and station wagons with a diesel engine equipped that runs 140mph easily have ranges of 700 miles per tank. And this is a big nice to have. Even in Europe. In the wide US i bet it would be twice as nice. Thats one of the reasons why the model S in Europe is sold not poorly but far from very good with its range under 400 miles. So even the Model S should get every additional mile of range it could. At least for the asked price. If the Model 3 is half the price a limited range is acceptable but not both (high price and low range (against a simple diesel-engine-car)).

Mike

In reality no one drives coast to coast, or even plans to.

Robert Weekley
Mike, That is a Pretty Big Absolute: ‘Nobody Drives Coast to Coast” – when in all probability – what you mean is – nobody you know, or you have never heard of anyone, (except the Cannonball run, of course); however – I myself have driven from Prince Rupert, BC, to Thunder Bay, Ontario, and from Toronto to Oshkosh and down to Presideo, TX, and from Toronto to Key West, so- I can’t say that now one drives from Coast to Coast – and – I knew a Waiter from a French Restaurant who drove from Vancouver to Nova Scotia, not so different than the University Students that drove their eBeetle from Vancouver to Nova Scotia, as well – even before a Level 2 Charging Network was built, let alone a Quick Charge or Supercharge Network Coast to Coast! http://nogas96volts.blogspot.ca/2010/08/ubc-e-beetle-visits-toronto-spends-day.html >> At 6:00 PM AST, the UBC Electric Car Club’s E-Beetle arrives at ALDERNY LANDING, DARTMOUTH NS and is the first-ever electric car to complete a coast to coast voyage across Canada. Starting on August 21st, 2010, the E- Beetle has covered 6400 kilometers in 16 days (2 days break in Quebec waiting for Hurricane Earl to pass) without any support… Read more »
Fabian

+100. I have a JETTA TDI and I get 700 miles to the tank easily. Would welcome a cheap 500 mile EV someday.

DanCar

As batteries become cheap in the future and slow to charge compared to gas cars, I would pay for longer than 400 mile range. In reality driving at high speed makes the range much less.

Jim Whitehead, M.S., B.S.E.

Projection from an engineer and inventor: In the battery industry, max. energy density has been improving by 15% every year, even before Gigafactory is built. With no end in sight for this improvement stream, we should see 500+ miles in under 3.2 years, by 2017 to 2018. (Note: solve for X: 320 miles * (1.15^ X years) = 500 miles )

CounterStrike Cat

There wasn’t a 15% energy density increase every year in the last 10 years for real mass producible batteries, so there will no 15% increase every year during the next 10 years.

MrEnergyCzar

I thought batteries improve 7% per year… 15% would be insane…

Priusmaniac

Some overshoot could be an extra spare luxury but indeed 400 miles real life driving range is the sweet spot. That is still a big 50% improvement on present cells.

DonC

The big deal is that Tesla is talking about upgrading the range of existing vehicles. That’s significant. Props to Tesla. Hopefully we’ll see other manufacturers do the same thing but I’m not holding my breath.

no comment
i think that you have to give musk a lot of credit for trying to address all of the issues that limit adaptation of BEVs. the objective of attempting to increase range is yet another attempt to address a limiting issue. it is not an accurate comparison to compare the range of BEVs to the range of ICE vehicles because of the big difference between recharge time versus refill time. musk first attempted to address recharge time with the superchargers, but even though 30-60 minutes is better than hours, it is still a long time compared to the 5 minutes for a refill. then musk recently introduced the idea of battery swap, where the time for swapping a battery is comparable to the time for refilling. the problem here is that battery swap would be cost prohibitive for general use. the objective for BEV range should be that there is enough range to provide for an entire day’s driving without the need to recharge. this would be matched with the ability to recharge within a few hours. this would effectively make BEVs non-limiting in terms of range anxiety. i would say that the ultimate range objective should be at least… Read more »
Lustuccc

The range does not cut in half in cold climate. Actually a Leaf will loose about 30% of it’s range at 0°F
A Tesla S will loose about 15%.

The reason is that 65% of the lost in a Leaf is about the heating of the components and the cabin. But since this amount of required energy is a CONSTANT FACTOR, the more batteries will gain range, the more this % will shrink! … until it becomes a trivial matter of 3-5% loss…

The interresting point with the following link, is that a gas car ALSO loose 20% of it’s range in winter. But as opposed to an electric car, this poor performance will never improve in an ICE car.
🙂

http://www.fleetcarma.com/cold-weather-fuel-efficiency/

no comment

you may want to take a closer look at the data that you are citing because the fleetcarma data does indeed show that the most efficient Leaf drivers did see an at least 50% drop in range across temperatures. keep in mind, the figures that automakers are going to give you are *best* range values. so to get a sense of how temperature will affect range, you need to look at best range performance, not average range performance from the fleetcarma data sets.

your point about losses due to heating being constant is not correct. as range increases that means that you can drive for longer periods of time on a single charge. that also means that the amount of energy used in heating would increase accordingly. so if range increases allow you to drive twice as long, you would also be running the heater for twice as long meaning that losses due to heating should scale with increased range.

Lustuccc

No, the losses due to heating will always increase according to the TIME you spend in the car, not the range of the car. If you spend 1 hour in a 100 miles range car, you will loose a lot more % that in a 500 miles range car.

And please point for me where it is written that Leaf drivers loose 50% efficiency?
I don’t see it.

Lustuccc

…and everybody knows that when the initial heating is done, the car require a lot less energy to keep it’s temperature convenient. We all turn down the heater after 10 minutes.

no comment

if you read the article that you cited, in the second paragraph, you will find a link to another article that provides detail on the range versus temperature analysis. the article that you cited only presents summary data.

Lustuccc

If you are refeering to this graph :

http://news.fleetcarma.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Leaf_Range_Cold_Weather_FleetCarma.png

Remember that we are talking about a temperature of 0°F and on this graph, it seems that leafs (best range) still get about 70 miles of range.

no comment
you still need to look more closely at the chart that you cited. at around 0 degrees there is a “best range” data point in which the driver got barely more than 45 miles – that is more than a 60% loss in range, which is substantially greater than the 30% that you cited. while EV enthusiasts (which apparently includes you) would probably try to put the most optimistic gloss on the data (for example, the best data point at around 0 degrees is around 80 miles) realistic drivers need to look at the data and see that they might get 1/3 to 1/2 of the “best case” range that the manufacturers are citing for low temperature driving – you don’t want to get stuck while driving due to overly optimistic planning. in all fairness to Nissan, they were promoting a range of 100 miles for the Leaf and not the 125 miles shown in the fleetcarma data, so based on Nissan data, you would count on seeing 1/2 the Nissan best case range during winter driving. i actually drive an EV (a Volt) and can say that i am in the middle of the ranges shown for the Volt:… Read more »
ItsNotAboutTheMoney

The EPA range rating is on the window and it’s not 100 miles. Percentage loss for best drivers compared to their best range is a totally useless click-bait headline. You just need to know whether there’d be enough range enough of the time to make it work. It’d work for me.

Lustuccc

Maybe you’re a color-blind? The green dots and the green line.

ModernMarvelFan

Maybe you can tell me what Green mean and what Blue means.

I thought I read the Green mean “BEST” case and Blue means “average” case.

DonC

Why would the Leaf lose twice as much range? Hard to believe. It would have to relate to the heating of the cabin and maybe a lack of heating for the battery. The other losses should be similar.

Lustuccc

No the more range you have, the less will be the losses in winter because of the CONSTANT FACTOR of heating the cabin and the components (battery) account for 65% of the loss. Once you butt is warm enough, you don’t need as much energy to go on. Say if you need 30 kWh to do this task, it will be about the same amount in a car with 500 kWh or another with 50kWh. Simple math.

MikeM

“Actually a Leaf will loose about 30% of it’s range at 0°F”.

Hmmm. Not sure about that.

Our Leaf, purchased 31 Apr. 2014 (in Portland OR) has seen its worst case winter loss of ≈30% in temperatures of 28F – 30F.
It’s since bounced back to ≈19% loss (a none too cold winter here, as yet).

The spring baseline weather was very mild with no heating and very little A/C use for about 5 weeks after purchase.
Also, the basis for measurement is a dedicated AC power meter so any charge/discharge efficiency changes are included.

Lustuccc

Well the FleetCarma study is about thousands of fleet cars with recording devices collecting data in real time. What is very different here is that the human factor is also teken account of.

CounterStrike Cat

I doubt that many company car drivers are using pre-heating from the grid. Nor do they care about energy efficiency, because they don’t pay for the energy from their private money.

Robert Weekley

Per: “the objective for BEV range should be that there is enough range to provide for an entire day’s driving without the need to recharge.” – I know of very few people that Drive their 1000 Km or 1100 Km Range VW Jetta TDi’s in one sitting, without stopping, let alone anyone that drives 1,000 Miles straight – even Truckers with large fuel tanks!

What Elon’s goal of range for the Model S + Supercharger set up was drive 3 hours, take a break (Recharge), and drive another 3 hours, Repeat if required. So – it seems you don’t like to allow a planned break in your long distance Road Trips!

While I know of people driving from Toronto to Miami Straight – they do it with 2-3 drivers, and they pack an extra lunch, or buy lots of food at gas stops – one is buying food while another is pumping gas! However – that is a very unusual routine, and most people would rather fly that trip, than drive it like that!

no comment
keep in mind that not everyone is an EV enthusiast, so most people are not going to be willing to follow the dictates of elon musk. but not to worry, because musk realizes that most drivers would not find the model that you described to be acceptable: that’s why he has proposed alternatives like battery swap and increases in battery range. i can understand why musk is a bit slower to move on the range increases because based on today’s technology, it would greatly increase the cost of the vehicle. in that regard, it is better to wait for technology improvements since today’s theoretical models suggest that a 10 fold increase in energy density is possible with batteries. the thing about automobiles, at least in the U.S., is that drivers have come to expect their cars to give them freedom; freedom to go where they want and when they want to go there. if you were to drive from chicago to the east coast, that would be a drive of some 700 or 800 miles: that is basically a 12 hour drive, which is a long day, but definitely a doable drive. as hard as it may seem for you… Read more »
Stuart22

Is this just a wild guess, or is there any basis for the author to make this statement:

“By 2019, we fully expect a battery upgrade to be able to boost the range of the Model S into 500-mile territory. It seems likely then that Tesla will become the first automaker to offer a 400-mile electric car and a 500-mile electric car.”

ffbj

Yes.

Stuart22

So, nothing beyond Elon’s throwaway comment, one even less precise as his ‘200 mile range for around $35k’ Model 3 comment.

I like and greatly respect Elon, but I’ve learned not to take everything he says as something ‘fully expected’ to happen as he says/when he says.

Micke Larsson

His comments rarely hold much real world value. But at least when you’re aiming at Mars you might get to the moon. 🙂

Anyway that is so much better than most that don’t strive at all and barely improves anything.

Lustuccc

+1

Robert Weekley
Basis for Range at 500 miles = Vehicles Current kWh usage per mile x 500 miles vs. Battery Efficiency improvement at a steady few % a year compounded, going forward: 60 kWh Model S @ 208 Miles Range = 3.466 Miles per kWh; 85 kWh Model S @ 265 Miles Range = 3.117 miles per kWh. Taking a part loss for potentially greater weight at a 5% reduction = 2.961 miles per kWh; divided by 500 miles target = 168.812 kWh or about 170 kWh as a buffer. That means – Aerodynamics and efficiencies would need to be improved to get this below 160 kWh or if they could make the efficiencies of the current 60 kWh Car – they would need 144.231 or about 145 kWh. To get from the current 85 kWh to 145 kWh – the cell weight would have to be kept at under the 46 grams of current weight and improve from the current (estimated per cell of) 3.1 Ah [~7616 Cells per 85 kWh Pack] to about 5.288 Ah Per 18650 Cell or Equivalent. Panasonic’s road map takes them out to 3.4 Ah/Cell (Currently Available) and to 4.0 Ah/Cell (at a slightly heavier target… Read more »
Robert Weekley

However – after having Said all that – Tesla Could stretch out a Model S or Model X to make a limited edition Limo – and stick two of the current 85 kWh packs under it to get a car that does ~500 miles now!

Possibly – with the 3.4 Ah Cells in there instead, they could nearly Guarantee 500 miles range in that, and with the 4.0 Ah Cells – take the range out to 550 – 600 miles!

Schopenhauer

Doing the maths well – thank you! I don’t think that the 500 mls car is coming soon, but of course a updated S as aa “waste product” of model 3 development. It absolutely make sence for tesla to create and built a 20700 cell for the model 3. They can still use the current bms layout with 448 cells each modul just by reducing the space between ! cells and they will get 20 percent more range without other technical improvements. Add that and you will easily get a total improvement of 30-40 percent in the next 3-4 years.
The big big advantage is, that they can use these new
celltyp for every car they ever built!!!

Gene Frenkle

Really 150 miles of range is all that is necessary for typical daily driving. If an EV has 150 miles of range the charging infrastructure would only need to be dryer outlets or RV outlets. A mall could have a lot with dryer outlets and charge $1 an hour for parking there. Offices could just have standard outlets available for EVs.

The real issue once EVs have a 150 mile range is interstate travel. Also keep in mind that due to technology like Autopilot highway speed limits will increase and before 2030 it will be over 100 mph.

So a Tesla with 500 miles of range will not have anywhere close to 500 miles of range at speeds over 100 mph. Superchargers work better with more capacity so if a Tesla has a 150 kWh pack it can easily get 50 kWh of electricity in 20 minutes at 150 kW supercharger. So with one 20 minute stop that is 200 kWh which should be good for 400 miles at 100 mph.

Stuart22

I’d need 300 miles of range barring quick charging capability. Days of visiting clients frequently have me going 200-250 miles out and back. A BEV150 won’t cut it in the dog eat dog world I live in.

ItsNotAboutTheMoney

He was just saying that they’ll do the same with the S and ditch legacy cells in future when it’s worth doing.

Ahldor

If Model S get battery upgrade first in 2019 it is sad news. Long term is probably more like 2 years Tesla wise.

I think the Model X will be available from start (autumn 2015) with (60, 85 and) a bigger battery pack, 110 kWh or summat. And in 2016 Tesla will announce that the 110 kWh battery will be available for the Model S too (since it is basically the same geometry). It would be a good way to justify the premium you pay for the X when it gets released, plus those who have waited years for the X will get a nice surprise.

In the year 2019 everything regarding the Model S will be old news or side notes. If it isn’t then the whole EV industry has failed.