At the Tesla Model 3’s glitzy unveiling, everyone knew the model was a half-baked cake. Now, company founder Elon Musk admits the much-hyped electric sedan still isn’t out of the oven.
Musk said in a recent conference call that the design of the $35,000 Model 3 EV still isn’t finalized, according to Reuters, and the company plans a spending spree to get the model into production on time. (Read More…)
Energy density isn’t the only reason why battery-powered cars have never caught on. As was highlighted in Tesla’s somewhat less than successful media road trip, the amount of time it takes to fill batteries with electrons can be as significant a factor in the practicality of EVs as the amount of electrons those batteries can hold.
More details have been released about the explosion at a GM Tech Center battery lab yesterday that left one person hospitalized with chemical burns and a possible concussion. In a statement, GM said that while an “experimental battery” was undergoing “extreme testing”, gases were released from the battery cells. Something in the lab then ignited the gases and the subsequent explosion was severe enough to cause structural damage, blowing out windows and forcing open fortified doors. The battery itself was left intact. The Detroit News, according to an unnamed source, reports that prototype lithium-ion battery was made by A123, and that explosion happened during “intensive tests designed to make it fail”. The Warren, Michigan fire commissioner said that the lab was designed with safety in mind so damage was confined to the one laboratory. Though some of the 80 workers in the building were sent home for the day after the explosion, others continued to work. The 63,000 sq ft Global Battery Systems Lab has 176 test cells as well as 49 thermal chambers, where GM tests both production and prototype batteries. A HAZMAT team was dispatched to the facility, as were OSHA and MIOSHA inspectors, because of the injuries.
GM stressed that the incident was not related to the Chevrolet Volt or any other production vehicle. Since the electric version of the Chevy Spark won’t go into production until next year, the battery involved in the explosion might be a developmental version of the batteries A123 will be supplying for that project. It also might be a completely experimental prototype.
A major study by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) has determined that even if EV battery costs drop by a projected 65% by 2020, the economics will still constrain their widespread adoption. It challenges the industry assumption that a $250 per kWh cost for automotive batteries can be achieved by that date. Nevertheless, the report projects that hybrids, plug-ins and pure EVs will make up 26% of new cars sold in major developed markets. Specifically, the study projects 1.5 million EVs, 1.5 million range-extending EVs, and 11 million hybrids produced in 2020. Regarding the manufacturer’s holy grail of $250/kWh batteries:
Given current technology options, we see substantial challenges to achieving this goal by 2020. For years, people have been saying that one of the keys to reducing our dependency on fossil fuels is the electrification of the vehicle fleet. The reality is, electric-car batteries are both too expensive and too technologically limited for this to happen in the foreseeable future.
—Xavier Mosquet, Detroit-based leader of BCG’s global automotive practice and a coauthor of the study
The study takes on the expectations that current EV technology with its range and cost limitations can effectively replace the IC powered car head on, (Read More…)