Elon Musk Hints at Beefier Batteries

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

There’s another B-Day set to occur next month, and this one has nothing to do with the Ford Bronco. “Battery Day” is what Tesla dubs September 22nd — the day of its annual shareholder’s meeting, but also the date of a planned technology reveal.

Tesla has suggested its near future holds great advancements in energy density, meaning far greater miles from a same-sized battery. In response to an online query, company CEO Elon Musk hinted that the EV maker’s batteries could travel 50 percent longer on a charge.

Noticed by Reuters, the reply was in response to a tweet noting that a certain battery tech company has set up shop adjacent to the automaker’s Kato Road “skunkworks,” located near its Fremont assembly plant. Amprius Technology concerns itself with developing silicon nanowire batteries boasting greater energy density and battery life than traditional lithium-ion units found in today’s electric vehicles.

With the Twitter user noting that Musk has expressed interest in an electric jet aircraft, Musk tweeted, “400 Wh/kg *with* high cycle life, produced in volume (not just a lab) is not far. Probably 3 to 4 years.”

That’s a measure of energy density. The Panasonic battery pack found in a Model 3 sports a density of 260Wh/kg, Reuters reports, making Musk’s estimate approximately 50 percent denser. In the EV field, more miles equals more eyes on a product.

Last year, mention was made of work on a EV battery with the potential to travel one million miles before replacement. Earlier this year, Tesla promised a version of its Chinese-market Model 3 sedan with a cheaper, longer-range battery — a product of the automaker’s partnership with China’s Contemporary Amperex Technology Ltd.

In addition to this, present supplier Panasonic has claimed it plans to make the current cells fitted into the automaker’s battery packs 20 percent more dense in the coming half-decade.

[Image: IIHS]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Detroit-X Detroit-X on Aug 25, 2020

    "Tesla has suggested its near future holds great advancements in energy density, meaning far greater miles from a same-sized battery." I'll believe this when I see an improvement roll down to my smartphone and laptop batteries, and not a second sooner.

    • See 3 previous
    • SCE to AUX SCE to AUX on Aug 25, 2020

      "...when I see an improvement roll down to my smartphone and laptop batteries" You may know this, but commodity batteries like these receive the lowest-grade, cheapest packaging and charger designs possible. Charging parameters drive battery life, and consumer-grade batteries which charge to 100% daily are doomed from the start. Cell balancing, voltage during discharge and charging, and temperature all figure into battery life. The mfrs of those products know you'll replace them after a few years, so there is little point in improving them. So unfortunately, awesome battery cell tech is probably wasted in consumer-grade products.

  • ScarecrowRepair ScarecrowRepair on Aug 25, 2020

    An electric jet aircraft, eh? Sounds like a wave-skimming submarine, or an off-road railroad.

    • Indi500fan Indi500fan on Aug 25, 2020

      When Musk trades in his G650 for a Teslajet, we'll know he's really arrived.

  • DS No for 2 reasons. 1-Every new car pipelines data back to the manufacturer; I don't like it with domestic, Japanese and Euro companies and won't put up with it going to Chinese companies that are part financed by their government. 2-People have already mentioned Vinfast, but there's also the case of Hyundai. Their cars were absolutely miserable for years before they learned enough about the US market
  • Theflyersfan Well, if you're on a Samsung phone, (noticing all of the shipping boxes are half Vietnamese), you're using a Vietnam-built phone. Apple? Most of ours in the warehouse say China, but they are trying to spread out to other countries because putting all eggs in the Chinese basket right now is not wise. I'm asking Apple users here (the point of above) - if you're OK using an expensive iPhone, where is your Made in China line in the sand? Can't stress this enough - not being confrontational. I am curious, that's all. Is it because Apple is California-based that manufacturing location doesn't matter, vs a company in a Beijing skyscraper? We have all weekend to hopefully have a civil discussion about how much is too much when it comes to supporting companies being HQ-ed in adversarial countries. I, for one, can't pull the trigger on a Chinese car. All kinds of reasons - political, human rights, war mongering and land grabbing - my morality is ruling my decisions with them.
  • Jbltg Ford AND VAG. What could possibly go wrong?
  • Leonard Ostrander We own a 2017 Buick Envision built in China. It has been very reliable and meets our needs perfectly. Of course Henry Ford was a fervent anti-semite and staunch nazi sympathizer so that rules out Ford products.
  • Ravenuer I would not.