Tag archives for battery

Tesla’s small cells helped solve big battery issues of range, cost

Tesla Model S

Tesla Motors turned the “penny wise, dollar foolish” axiom on its head by staking its lithium-ion battery technology on a more expensive and more complex layout than its competitors, according to Tesla Chief Technology Officer JB Straubel in an interview with Bloomberg News.

Instead of using battery packs with hundreds of larger cells for its Roaster, Tesla deployed thousands of smaller lithium-ion cells for its inaugural model in 2006. This made the battery pack more expensive to produce, but this costlier architecture was considered safer and less prone to breakdowns. Straubel said. Since then, Tesla has cut the cost of its battery packs in half during the past seven years while avoiding any recalls or reports of breakdowns due to the packs.

Earlier this month, Tesla said it delivered its first quarterly profit during the first quarter, boosting its sales 83 percent from a year earlier to $562 million and selling 4,900 Model S EVs, which was more than what the Chevrolet Volt extended-range plug-in and Nissan Leaf battery-electric achieved.

Related Gallery2012 Tesla Model S: First Drive

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By Danny King

A closer look at Tesla Model S battery pack replacement costs

To some, a recent offer by Tesla Motors to replace batteries in its Model S all-electric sedan for under $150 per kilowatt hour reflects an extremely futuristic view of improving EV technology. To Plug In Cars, though, the offer is more a reflection of the age-old “bird in hand” axiom.

Recently, Tesla outlined the replacement costs for the Model S batteries along with warranty options. Prices range from $8,000 for a 40-kWh battery to $12,000 for an 85-kWh battery. Division The latter cost implies a rate of about $141 per kWh, which is far lower than any automaker or analyst is predicting anytime soon.

General estimates for battery-production costs lie vaguely in the $550-per-kilowatt-hour range, with some far above and below that. Tesla declined requests from AutoblogGreen to elaborate on the cost-per-kWh for the Model S batteries, but the offer to sell batteries at less than a third of that rate – even if delivery is eight years away, as it has to be, PIC notes – is merely an effort to sell more cars today than to provide any sort of clarity on where battery costs will be by the end of the decade. Prospective buyers should look at the offer as more of a marketing expense used to generate immediate revenue than a technology forecast.

It’s not like the Model S needs all that much more exposure right now, after winning the Motor Trend Car of the Year Award and other COTY honors.

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By Danny King

Tesla’s Musk calls Boeing 787 Dreamliner batteries ‘fundamentally unsafe’

Elon Musk

After offering to help Boeing with its lithium-ion battery problems, Elon Musk is somewhat raising the stakes. Musk, who heads both Tesla Motors and space exploration company SpaceX, has now called the batteries in the Boeing 787 “inherently unsafe” in an e-mail to trade publication Flightglobal.

There’s a fair amount of science involved, but for simpletons like this reporter, Musk basically says the lithium cobalt oxide cells used in the 787 Dreamliner are packed too close together, so that if one cell catches fire, the entire battery pack may ignite in a chain-reaction type situation, which is never good at 30,000 feet. Musk goes on to point out that the cells used in both Tesla vehicles and SpaceX’s space-launch rocket are smaller and separated from one another, so that any potential ignition is contained. Musk says offer to help but has so far been rebuffed.

About 50 Dreamliners were recently grounded because of two incidents, one a fire, involving the battery system. The US Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration are currently looking into the cause of the 787 problems.

By Danny King

Tesla now delivering 60-kWh Model S

tesla model s

A Tesla Model S for hoi polloi? Not quite, but the luxury electric vehicle maker apparently has started deliveries of its “middle-ground” sedans fitted with 60-kWh batteries, Green Car Reports says, citing threads from the online Tesla Motors car club.

Tesla hasn’t yes confirmed 60-kWh Model S deliveries, which has a base price of $62,400. That’s a $10,000 “discount” from the 85-kWh versions already on the road. The trade-off is a single-charge range that’s about 75 miles less than the 285-mile range of the top-of-the-line battery. For buyers who want to spend even less, the better news is that Tesla’s 40-kWh version should start deliveries by the middle of 2013, offering a single-charge range of about 145 miles (and no Supercharging) for another $10,000 less.

Earlier this month, Automotive News reported that Tesla was on the verge of hitting full production capacity of 400 new vehicles a week, about double Tesla’s pace three months ago. The Model S won the Motor Trend Car of the Year award last November.

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By Danny King

Tesla Retail Stores Defended by Brand CEO

Elon Musk, tech mogul and co-founder of Tesla is coming to the defense of his company as it faces a lawsuit from dealers in Massachusetts and New York.

They allege the Palo Alto, California-based electric-car maker is violating franchise laws that forbid factory-owned stores, something that’s restricted or prohibited in 48 states. Naturally, Musk denies this claim. In a blog post he said the company has taken “great care not to act in a manner contrary to those rules.” He backs up this assertion with several arguments.

The first point he makes is that most dealerships have an inherent conflict of interest. Pushing consumers toward electric cars undermines the sales of traditional vehicles, which is the majority of their business. Tesla, of course, does not have this problem.

Another one of Musk’s arguments centers on franchise laws. Factory-owned Tesla dealerships cannot unfairly compete with franchised dealers because there are no franchised Tesla stores, therefore no harm can be done.

One of his last points has to do with the location of Tesla dealers. By putting them in high-traffic areas like shopping malls Tesla hopes it can reach potential customers before they decide what kind of car to buy. The stores are staffed by non-commissioned salespeople are there to educate consumers. Vehicles are purchased from the company’s website.

By Craig Cole

Tesla Model S 60-kWh gets 95 MPGe, 208 mile range according to EPA

Black Tesla Model S at sunset with ocean in background.

Spend a princely sum on a top-of-the-line Tesla Model S, which has an 85-kWh battery pack, and you can get an EPA-certified 265 miles on a full charge. If you opt for the lower-cost (and delayed) 60-kWh version, the EPA has now calculated you’ll get 208 miles.

This works out to 95 miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe) combined, 94 in the city and 97 on the highway with the 60-kWh pack. The EPA has multiple ways of expressing this number, including: 35 kWhs to go 100 miles. Or an Annual “Fuel” Cost (“Based on 45% highway, 55% city driving, 15,000 annual miles and current fuel prices”) of $650. Or that it costs $1.05 to drive 25 miles.

To compare, the 85-kWh version gets 89 MPGe (combined), 88 (city) and 90 (highway), which means the 60-kWh Model S is about six to seven percent more efficient, points out tipster Mike I. He writes that the lower mass of the smaller battery pack probably accounts for the difference, and we suspect he’s right, because what else could it be? As always, your mileage may vary.

Speaking of YMMV, here’s what you can do with a fully charged, 85-kWh Model S and a light foot: 423.5 miles. That’s how far a father-sun duo in Florida managed to go in a Model S recently, according to Green Car Reports and congratulated by Elon Musk. Back in May, Tesla started talking about giving a prize to whoever could drive a Model S over 400 miles on a single charge. Challenge accepted and accomplished, Tesla. Now, what’s the prize?

Related Gallery2012 Tesla Model S: First Drive

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By Sebastian Blanco