By on November 11, 2015

Elon Musk + Tesla Model S Circa 2011

Speaking at the Barron’s Investment Conference last week, Tesla CEO Elon Musk predicted EVs would be good for 500 miles per charge by 2025.

According to Green Car Reports, Musk believed such vehicles would be possible in 10 years, but tempered those expectations by cautioning that more assembly and battery production facilities would be needed to realize that future.

At present, smaller lithium-ion cells have fallen in production costs at an average of 7 percent each year since the early 1990s.

Larger cells may be on par, as well: General Motors’ Mark Reuss says the automaker will pay $145/kWh for the cells used in the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt, set to hit showrooms by the end of 2016 at the earliest. That figure is lower than the considerable $200/kWh some have speculated that Tesla is spending for their batteries. (It’s probably lower than that)

With more volume from Musk’s Gigafactory and other battery manufacturers, and at the current average rate of cost-reduction, a 500-mile pack in 2025 would cost as much to produce as a 250-mile pack is today, if not less, according to the report.

Photo credit: Maurizio Pesce/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

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79 Comments on “Elon Musk: 500-mile EVs By 2025...”


  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    500 mile EVs by 2025.

    Oh OK, then I’ve got 10 years before I care about electric cars.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    That tent area looks like many scenes from CSI Miami.

  • avatar
    raph

    Hmmm… didn’t Musk say in an interview recently that they would be producing a long range EV by 2017?

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    Musk is a con artist, full stop.

    Here’s what he really said at that conference (you have to use Musk-translate):

    “Electric vehicles, meeting crash and other regulatory standards, could hypothetically be capable of 500 miles per charge by 2025 assuming the U.S. Congress, with Executive Branch complicity, agrees to ramp up taxpayer appropriated subsidies to Tesla Motors and our exclusive suppliers by a multiple of 8x to 20x of current levels, and then grant much larger state and federal level rebates to consumers to purchase our products.”

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      Is it bad that I’d rather buy an EV from GM? Because I would, and it makes me feel uncomfortable.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      “taxpayer appropriated subsidies to Tesla Motors”

      @DeadWeight: Please explain this news. If you’re referring to the taxpayers of Nevada, then please include Michigan, Tennessee, South Carolina, Alabama, Ohio, and others, as well as other mfrs, including every other district in the world that provides corporate incentives to do business locally.

      • 0 avatar
        S2k Chris

        As someone who gets his paycheck directly from the oil and gas industry, I have NO IDEA why any American would object to the government providing subsidies (that are pretty inconsequential in dollar amount) to any company with demonstrated ability to produce a product that helps to wean us from dependence on oil as a transportation fuel. I simply don’t understand. Is your ideology (I’m a pretty far to the right guy) that encompassing that you can’t understand why this is a good idea? I mean, is making investments into technology that helps enable our lives (you know, moving about freely in cars) not something the government should be doing?? It seems like a pretty dang good idea to me!

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Given what other governments around the world are doing, stopping all subsidies to industry would render us uncompetitive pretty much immediately. It’s just a matter of making sure our subsidies are targeted for maximum effect. Whether you think the level of subsidies to Tesla is appropriate depends on how optimistic you are about the future of BEVs. I like them but don’t think they should be the only focus — the transportation network of the future will have a variety of power sources. I do think the BEV will take over the commuter-car space, though, and that’s a major part of the market.

      • 0 avatar
        S2k Chris

        “Whether you think the level of subsidies to Tesla is appropriate depends on how optimistic you are about the future of BEVs. I like them but don’t think they should be the only focus”

        I dislike the idea of the government “picking winners” but my understanding is that any company can apply for and potentially receive gov’t subsidies and grants for alternative fuel research, and sales and production. Basically, if someone’s got a better idea or a better approach, let them go apply for funding, and then I’ll join you in being pissed if/when you get turned down.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          I hear your concern but I think it is unavoidable in a world of modern economic policy that the government picks winners and losers to some degree. The government does need to play a role in shaping the country’s economic base, and in a world where it has to provide subsidies it should pick those subsidies well. I agree that the favored categories should be as broad as possible (“alternative fuel industries” or at least “battery electric vehicles” rather than specific battery technologies), and merits of specific proposals should be reviewed competitively.

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        All subsidizing “industry” does, is drive costs up. Obviously for all those who don’t get directly subsidized, since they are the ones paying for the silliness.

        But in the long term, even for those who do get subsidies, as every country with an “industrial policy” have demonstrated, and even the most basic application of economics predicts. When subsidies is potentially available, resources gets diverted away from serving customers towards serving subsidizers. As in, self promoting hucksters skilled at fooling dumb bureaucrats become more important to a company’s revenue, than competent engineers.

        Over time, the entire executive structure of affected companies are populated with people selected for their ability to leech, not lead.

        Also, over time, the money spent on professional leeches, hucksters, lobbyists and other boat anchors around the ankles of productivity, will inevitably grow to equal the money available in subsidies, iow, until the marginal return on leeching turns negative. Leaving no other net effects than an incompetent at anything but leeching executive suite, and a net waste of potentially productive resources.

        If costs for US companies are too high to compete sans subsidies, they are too high for everyone. Not just the ones who happen to be hailed as rockstars by dimwitted progressive sophomores adept at nothing beyond childish hero worship. Hence, the solution is to equally rip out anything that may increase costs. Not build yet another expensive, distorting and nonproductive bureaucratic structure. Even if that structure does temporarily succeed in fooling idiots, by pretending to “help” a handful companies whose distinguishing trait is a telegenic, self promoting CEO.

    • 0 avatar
      nickoo

      LG chem has already leap-frogged Musk on battery tech. He is going to be screwed when his giga-factory completes its ramp-up to full production of last generation batteries.

      However, I have no doubt that there will be 500 mile EVs that are better in nearly every single way than gasoline cars in 10 years, they just won’t be made by Tesla.

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    500 miles between stops to recharge is better than 300 miles but the real issue is how long it takes to recharge. My gasoline powered Infiniti can go at least 400 miles on a tank, be refueled in less than 10 minutes, and repeat that more or less indefinitely. Until someone finds a way to recharge in a few minutes, battery powered vehicles will be no more than local transportation or novelties for those who can afford them.

    • 0 avatar
      S2k Chris

      “My gasoline powered Infiniti can go at least 400 miles on a tank, be refueled in less than 10 minutes, and repeat that more or less indefinitely.”

      And it’s a good thing, too, because everyone knows that you need to always buy a car for 100% of the situations you may encounter, and cannot own multiple cars for multiple uses, or rent them for a short time for exceptional usage.

      • 0 avatar
        Kendahl

        “…. you need to always buy a car for 100% of the situations you may encounter, and cannot own multiple cars for multiple uses, or rent them for a short time for exceptional usage.”

        In addition to the Infiniti, we have a Focus and an old Subaru wagon. The Infiniti is my retirement toy and only goes out in good weather. The Focus gets used most. The Subaru is saved for bad winter weather or cargo that won’t fit in either of the others. Nevertheless, the common denominator among them is that any one may be called on for a long trip.

        I once rented a minivan from Enterprise to haul equipment to and from a work site 1,200 miles away. Enterprise must have been unhappy about the mileage we put on it. The next time we tried to rent one, we were told that it was for local use only.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Which Infiniti can do this? VQ be thirstay. I MIGHT be able to do 280 miles if it was all highway.

      • 0 avatar

        I believe only the Hybrid versions of Infiniti vehicles would be capable of that range.

      • 0 avatar
        Kendahl

        “Which Infiniti can do this?” 2008 G37 6MT. 20 gallon fuel tank. 24 to 26 mpg on highway depending on speed and temperature.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          Interesting. I could get 22-23 from my M35x, but it’s only got a 17gal tank. Wish I had more gallons.

          But I drive so little that as-is, I go to get fuel once per month. And now I have two cars, so that’ll be once every two+ months. Lol.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            That VQ is sure thirsty. My LS (with a 380-hp V8) will do a legitimate 30+ at 70-75 mph on the highway if the terrain is reasonably flat and 28-29 on Northwest-style hills.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I blame the transmissions. Only have 5 speeds, and the G37 there has 6. Needs 8 or 9 or whatever your LS has!

            Of course, a 4.9L V8 from GM which is 17 years older and attached to a similar weight car will best VQ mpg on the highway as well.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            Yep, it sure doesn’t hurt to be at 1700 rpm at 75 mph.

            The full underbody fairing on the LS is also a big help. It has a ridiculously low Cd, and you can feel that in real time on the highway — the car maintains speed forever.

          • 0 avatar
            01 ZX3

            My cam’d 4.6 Mustang will do 26-27 at 80. Only a 15 gallon tank though.

    • 0 avatar
      nickoo

      You’re probably looking at it the wrong way. If you compare total time it takes to plug in your car at home, and total costs of energy it takes to travel per mile, an EV, even a current model S, beats the pants off of any gasoline car, bar none, except for long trips, which for most people aren’t all that frequent.

      With current Model S, not even talking about updated future EVs, unless you are regularly travelling more than about 200 miles, you’re saving both time and money by using an EV and stopping for 30-40 minutes every 200 miles on long trips, even then, there is a quick battery swap station between LA and San Francisco, and it has been barely utilized at all.

      If you do happen to need to travel more than 200 miles regularly, then you’d be better served by a C-max or a Prius.

  • avatar
    S2k Chris

    Then we will have all the knuckleheads screaming about how they can’t drive across the country and the car is garbage until it can.

  • avatar
    NN

    They can go 250 miles already. A full tank in my car gets just over 300. By then, I really need to pee anyways. As far as I’m concerned range is not an issue on Tesla’s at all. I would drive it around town and plug it in over night. On road trips, if I chose to take the Tesla, I’d map out the route to include superchargers, and Autopilot my arse down the interstate. The only practical reason I have now not to own a Tesla is the price.

    • 0 avatar
      S2k Chris

      “The only practical reason I have now not to own a Tesla is the price.”

      Ditto. I have three cars, a gas sports car, a gas CUV, and a gas commuter sedan. There’s no reason I couldn’t replace the sedan with an EV, except I can’t afford one I want. If the Model III is worth a crap, and I can afford the fastest version, I’ll buy one to replace the sedan. For long distances we take the CUV anyways, the sedan rarely travels more than 50 miles in a day.

    • 0 avatar

      With the latest Tesla software the car itself can route to the destination including Supercharger stops. One less route planning chore. It also indicates how long you should charge for when you do stop. The first 1/2 of the battery charges very quickly and tapers off from there. If you don’t need to be full for the next leg, the software will indicate when its appropriate to stop charging in order to save time.

      • 0 avatar
        Rod Panhard

        And for the price of a Tesla, it should be able to look at your shoes, determine the material, and then either shine, suede brush, or brush the shoes, as by seeing what’s appropriate.

        In any case, Musk can follow the Forrester Research model of pronouncements. Say enough things, and eventually, some might come true!

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      A Tesla-like vehicle couldn’t currently replace all of my cars, but it could easily replace one (and, if I get a third car, two). The issue is purely price, both for the car and for installing the 220v charger in my house.

      • 0 avatar
        S2k Chris

        “The issue is purely price, both for the car and for installing the 220v charger in my house.”

        I’m redoing my basement right now and am running 220 to the garage as part of it while I have the walls all opened up. Figured either I or someone else might want that in the next decade or two. It’s super cheap while the walls are open, probably cost me an extra $75 of materials (including the IL-required conduit).

        • 0 avatar
          Waftable Torque

          Good to know. I’m going to be building a detached triple garage for the house I just moved into, and was looking at running at least 2 or 3 220V lines so I would have up to 3 fast-chargers available for my future cars. I’ll probably get the electrician to connect a whole-house surge protector while I’m at in.

          I wonder if I’m crazy for considering 6 lines, just in case 480V chargers eventually become the norm?

    • 0 avatar
      VenomV12

      Does it take you 45 mins to pee because if it does you should see a urologist ASAP.

  • avatar
    FormerFF

    i don’t think that much range is necessary. If you could get 300 miles with a 30- 45 minute recharge, that should cover everyone other than the hard core highway warrior, whose needs are much better covered by a gasoline powered vehicle anyway.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      Also the hard-core electric car naysayer to whom whatever longer range and shorter charging time is developed, won’t be good enough. Of whom there are legion on this board.

      • 0 avatar

        Indeed. As EV’s improve and earlier “issues’ floated by the hardcore naysayers are eliminated. New concerns will materialize.

        I chuckle every time I read, “I’ll buy an EV when (insert excuse(s) here)”. The reality is the naysayer has no intention of considering an EV, but for some reason feels compelled to sound like they’d be on board if…..

        And if the naysayer can’t think of a valid reason why an EV wouldn’t suit them… Say its fugly. That’ll do it everytime.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    If it’s cheap enough and small enough, then a 500 mile battery would be a genuine game changer because the recharge time would no longer be a factor for the vast majority of vehicle users. We’ll see.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      Isn’t 200+ miles from the Bolt enough for most people? Depending on the price. I wouldn’t have any range anxiety with a Bolt.

      I can’t pull the trigger on the current EVs (Leaf, Focus EV, etc) because the range is 75-85 miles. I can’t charge at work, and the range is pushing it in the winter if I need to run errands or go someplace after work.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        A 200 mile battery is about 3 hours worth of highway driving (and it isn’t 200 miles if you drive it at or at a reasonable margin above standard western US speed limits.) That isn’t enough.

        If the recharge time can’t be fixed, then the range needs to greater than a standard internal combustion car in order to make up for the inflexibility of the time. But a battery that needs all night to charge is not a problem if the range exceeds a day’s worth of driving.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Good luck Elon, I’m bearish on Western Civilization making it to 2050.

    • 0 avatar

      Elon has plans for getting off the planet as well. *If* SpaceX can get us to Mars before end times :-)

      Rockets are the only vehicle type Elon would consider Hydrogen for.

      • 0 avatar
        nickoo

        We’re much better off trying to fix our own planet than thinking we’re going to be able to go somewhere else. Cleaning up the plastics in the ocean would be a good start. I’ve already heard realistic talk about the upcoming leaps in tech centering around the carbon economy where carbon will be in such high demand for single wall-nanotubes and graphene sheets that they will be literally sequestering it from CO-2 in the atmosphere. I heard about it on a podcast comparing it to the revolution of the affordable steel wire which came about 200 years ago and the thought is that it may happen in our lifetime (2030-2050).

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      When did the right all turn from Reaganite optimists into doomsayers? Optimism in a challenging time was one of the most appealing things about the right in 1980, and now frequent predictions of collapse are one of the least appealing. From Trump constantly repeating that the country is going to hell, to Cruz trashing new immigrants’ (whether legal or not) ability to contribute anything to society, to Rand Paul predicting hyperinflation if we don’t immediately tie our money to the vagaries of mining in Africa… all of a sudden it seems like the American can-do spirit is under siege.

      For the record, I think the American economy is currently in the best position of any in the world. It’s not bound by the dysfunctional eurozone, by the failure to have and enforce reasonable ground rules that you see in China, by the challenged demographics of Japan or South Korea, or by the lack of education and infrastructure in most other parts of the world. I think the 2000s can very much be an American century.

  • avatar
    z9

    A 500 mile car might mean a 250 mile truck, and that would be a good thing.

  • avatar
    RogerB34

    500 miles EV is a battery density revolution.
    Easier to say than to do.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Not necessarily. It could be done today (according to Mr Musk, actually), but you’d give up seating for 5, and 400+ HP.

      It would be a battery on wheels, with 2 seats, sort of like a beefier Tesla Roadster.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      “Easier to say than to do”

      Nope. If you can put battery cells together to make a 25 kWh battery, you can do it for 50 kWh, or 100 kWh, etc. All you have to do is put enough together to reach whatever range you want.

      Density matters for how much space and weight penalty you pay. But given how many large, heavy vehicles are out there, those aren’t the real limitations. Cost is the hurdle for the long-range EV.

      Let’s suppose that an EV gets 3.5 mi/kWh. Then 500 mi = 143 kWh battery. With previous typical battery costs, say $350/kWh, that’s $50k just in batteries. With GM’s announced price of $145/kWh, it’s $20k. Batteries would need to get down to ~$70/kWh for people to consider it, but even then that’s still thousands more than it needs to be.

      Honestly, 500 mi range is silly high. For what EVs will need to do–and for the the group that will buy them–250 mi is plenty. It doesn’t make sense to add thousands of dollars and hundreds of pounds (even with more energy dense batteries) to add range that will rarely if ever be used.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    Certainly a 500 mile battery sounds great, but there are several critical issues with that prediction. First, without major improvements in energy density a 500 mile battery will likely weigh over 2,000 lbs and be very bulky to package. Second, unless there are major improvements in recharging speeds – fully recharging a 500 mile battery will likely take 12-15+ hours, which means the full capability will almost never be usable – yes a quick 30 minute splash and dash will given decent range, but probably not more than a much smaller battery. Third, if the 500 mile battery requires a new battery technology (likely), the cost curve will likely start at a high level and make this a very expensive battery, and may also make current battery manufacturing plants obsolete. Finally, all the above is contingent on continued massive government EV subsidies, which many governments are already planning to cut back (i.e. Norway, Denmark, Georgia-US).

  • avatar
    nickoo

    He is being conservative on what is already possible with next generation batteries which are already in various testing phases. Probably because he is already behind the battery curve with his giga factory which is ramping up for producing current generation batteries…One of the reasons it has to be so damn large–to have the space to accommodate the batteries to sit and wait while the the electrolyte wet layer deposition drys before going to to deposit the next 100 layers and waiting for each electrolyte layer to dry.

    The big deal about a 500 mile range battery is that a typical battery recharges to 80% in half the time of a full charge. e.g. 1 hour to get to 80% charge and 2 hours to get to 100% charge. This is because charging slows as you get closer to full charge, think of it as pumping air into a tire with the same amount pressure in, it takes longer to continue to pump up the tire until pressure equalizes. That means you’ll have plenty of range all the time by just charging to 80% in a short time and you’ll keep the battery in it’s sweet spot for a long life at the same time, both good things.

    Also, with a larger battery, you could charge much faster without heat damage to the battery as the energy will be charging many more cells at the same time, hence 200kW or higher charging rates!

    Exciting things are in the near future for EVs!

    • 0 avatar
      stingray65

      There are always next generation batteries that are in the testing phase – and 99% of them never leave the testing phase. The current Tesla S battery weighs 1200 lbs and provides the range equivalent of about 25 lbs of gasoline (8 gallons), so batteries have to get a lot lighter if they are going to be capable of 500 miles without bumping the vehicle weight up to Kenworth levels. Perhaps one of those new battery technologies will manage to get out of the lab and actually offer lightness with higher capacity, faster charging without wearout, and be cheaper to produce than current versions, but those sorts of promises have been thrown around for decades. Time will tell.

      • 0 avatar
        nickoo

        Sorry, I should have been more clear, I wasn’t talking about lab testing of new battery technologies, many of these next generation batteries are already past testing and in early stages of initial production…They simply haven’t ramped up to full scale production yet. Look at the industry again to see what currently is out there and ready for prime time.

        Japan Power Plus Dual Carbon Cathode Ryden Battery or the foil electrode battery from Solid Energy Systems are simply two of dozens of examples. There’s also a battery with a gel electrolyte that is being produced too, but I can’t seem to find the company name at the moment. The point is, all three are ready to go at this very moment.

        • 0 avatar
          mcs

          Some of the new technologies are simply improvements in lithium-ion rather than completely new technology. 24-M is one of my favorites because they’ve not only improved the battery, they’ve improved the manufacturing process as well. They’re in the early phases of pilot manufacturing, so it’s out of the lab.

          I think they’re going to find more issues with ICE emissions and we’ll gain more emissions control equipment to go along with them. All of that complexity will impact reliability and serviciabity and maybe performance as well. We may already have the first of the new issues coming from researchers at Rice University and France:

          http://news.rice.edu/2015/10/19/are-cars-nanotubes-factories-on-wheels/

          • 0 avatar
            nickoo

            That’s the one I was thinking of, 24M! I am a big fan of theirs too for vastly improving the manufacturing methods of their batteries. If Tesla had a licensing agreement to manufacture 24M’s batteries I’d be stoked on the giga-factory. However, everything I’ve seen says they are going to manufacture batteries using the wet-layer deposition/wait for it to dry, deposit the next layer, wait some more, on and on…

            Not good.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    So Tesla will stop using Panasonic laptop cells before 2025?

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      The 18650 is only a form factor and pretty much independent of chemistry and cathode/anode technology. I have some right in front of me – I use them in robots.

      Some of the new low-cost li-ion manufacturing processes I’ve seen seem to only produce flat format cells. The cost of manufacturing could kill the 18650 cell.

  • avatar
    dr_outback

    I toyed around with the idea of applying for a Service Manager position with Tesla, but then reconsidered where they are as a company. I realized that if Tesla isn’t careful, they could very easily become the next Tandy or Gateway. Tesla builds cars in a market already flooded with automobile manufacturers. Tesla cannot compete on volume. So when the mainstream automakers start getting serious about EV’s, Tesla will no longer be the only practical EV option. Tesla won’t be able to spread out production costs out across multiple platforms, powerplant options and throughout the world market.

    • 0 avatar

      The reason Tesla will succeed in a market full of incumbents, is the same reason Amazon and Zappos succeeded.

      It comes down to excellent customer service. Tesla has that in spades. Game over rover.

    • 0 avatar
      WheelMcCoy

      @dr_outback

      Another way to look at this is that Tesla is unencumbered by existing platforms. That’s why the Tesla can have a frunk and a trunk… and push the motors to the wheels… and have better integration with the hardware and software.

      Large companies will only get serious when EVs are truly profitable. They don’t want the expense of retooling. They will try to save costs and compromise with an existing platform and dig into the parts bin. Re-use in itself is not a bad thing — actually, quite responsible from a shareholder point of view — but can their end product compete with a Tesla?

      We’ve seen this happen with Microsoft.

      And +1 to @JPWhite… Tesla has customer service in spades.

  • avatar
    Brett Woods

    God’s speed Mr. Musk. I don’t know if we are worth saving to reach the 22nd Century, but at least someone is trying. I had hoped that mankind would go to space and disseminate among the stars. It seems now that is not a likely future. Most people don’t have any clue what to do, and therefore deny and ignore the current pickle/predicament. God bless you.

  • avatar
    dr_outback

    Excellent customer service is what Gateway had until they were outpaced. The requirement of the Tesla Service manager position I looked into did stress that a high CSI must be achieved. But there are a lot of reasons for low CSI, one of which is that more people than ever expect (budget?) to never pay for maintenance and repairs. So they take out their frustration on the service department’s survey.

  • avatar
    carve

    I think a 500 mile EV has a bad cost/benefit ratio for most people. If you shoot for 250 mile range, you can get by with LESS than half the battery size and have much better acceleration and lower cost, because you’ll be saving a lot of weight. An optional, augmented frunk-battery or something for those who want to make that tradeoff might be beneficial though.

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