Springing Towards Affordable EVs with Reduced Battery Cost

Can electric cars be really affordable? At least for now, the price tags of most electric vehicle are not attractive enough for general consumers. But the good news is that the cost of electric vehicle battery has dropped about 80% since 2011 down to $227/kWh. As the core component that largely determines the cost of production for electric cars, this drop is exciting news. And Telsa is just about to make the battery even cheaper.

There are two ways to bring down the cost of battery production. One is to develop a completely new technology that outperforms the current one without adding extra manufacturing cost. The other is to simply massively scale up the current production lines. Telsa is trying the later approach with the Gigafactory. The company is aiming at a 35% cost reduction in a new teaser video. After the Gigafactory is running at its full capacity, the cost of battery would below $190/kWh, claimed by Telsa.

Tesla Model 3 is the newest and most affordable electric sedan that provides at least 215 miles driving range.

The new battery is being made with a collaborative work between Tesla and Panasonic. Despite being similar in shape as traditional cylindrical cells, dimensional modifications have been made to the new battery cell named “2170”. It is expected that the optimized design will eventually lead to the cost of production to be “less than $124/kWh”. Considering the 55kWh battery pack that a Tesla Model 3 is equipped with, the pack cost will be less than $6875. This number gives a convincing reason for a $35000 electrified vehicle to exist, though it is still of the most expensive components in the car.

The 2170 battery cell is the “highest energy density cell in the world and also the cheapest”, according to Tesla CEO Elon Musk

Although it is not clear the exact chemistry Telsa will use in its new battery cell, the proposed cost reduction and bumped driving distance implies some technological breakthrough other than just scaling-up of the manufacturing lines. According to Tesla CTO JB Straubel, and repeatedly from CEO Elon Musk, their company is on the right track to be cost competitive with gasoline powered vehicles by 2020. That said, by then, the cost of battery cell should be lower than $100/kWh.

Story Sources and Credit:

  1. https://electrek.co/2017/02/18/tesla-battery-cost-gigafactory-model-3/
  2. https://www.technologyreview.com/s/601178/the-tesla-model-3-may-depend-on-this-battery-breakthrough/
  3. https://www.tesla.com/
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"Springing Towards Affordable EVs with Reduced Battery Cost," Prospective Energy, April 23, 2017.
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