Watching JB Straubel, Tesla’s Chief Technical Officer deliver the keynote speech at the 2014 Energy Storage Symposium, gives us a clearer insight as to where Tesla Motors is heading. And if Straubel’s hints are anything to heed, Tesla is headed for a bright and sunny future, a thorn in the side of many carmakers.
Tesla’s battery technology is years ahead of the competition
Tesla has not only made the right choices in developing its lithium-ion battery technology, while others called the battery hopeless, but the company is also looking much, much further ahead than we can imagine. Tesla’s battery technology is what makes the Model S so successful.
Many carmakers have downplayed the longterm usefulness of lithium-ion batteries, and almost every carmaker who has dabbled with electric vehicles (EV) have opted for more exotic chemistry with questionable results. To this day, one of the key strengths behind Tesla Motors’ success is that it uses commodity lithium batteries. The results of ten years of research and development from Tesla Motors, as viewed by Straubel, is that the company now boasts one of the most energy dense lithium batteries on the market today.
Tesla’s battery technology research
According to Straubel, we can expect battery packs to double in energy performance every 10 years. The Model S alone showed an impressive 40% improvement over the Roadster in a short five years. Straubel jokes that many people were terrified at the idea of putting such a big battery pack, over 50 kW, into the Roadster, with all the security and fire hazards. Tesla Motors’ safety track record speaks for itself. It makes you wonder how far advanced the Model III will be over time.
Tesla’s lithium battery price is imminently cost competitive with different markets outside of cars. Tesla Motors works with utilities, charging entities, on rates for chargers, basically, working on finding the highest energy density for its battery technology whereas other carmakers have gone the other route, smaller packs. Keep in mind the Gigafactory and you begin to thread the pieces together.
Straubel’s entire presentation can be seen in the following video:
JB talks about how the traditional industries, whether energy or automotive just don’t think big enough. They don’t plan big enough. And this is something we can understand, considering Tesla Motors is a startup, unencumbered by the rigorous and traditional industry practice developed over decades, designed to streamline and make the products or service as cost effective as can be. Tesla’s battery technology research will continue to propel the company into the future and keep it ahead of the competition by five to six years.