Tag archives for li-ion

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.

Related GalleryTesla Model S

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By Danny King

Plug In America wants to survey your Tesla Roadster battery

brabus tesla roadster

Plug In America has launched a second electric vehicle owner experience survey – this time with the Tesla Roadster. It follows a survey conducted last year among Nissan Leaf owners, which was utilized and acknowledged by Nissan as it dealt with unexpected battery capacity loss reported by Leaf owners in high temperature Arizona.

Last year, Plug In America’s Expert Assistance and Research Group launched its first-ever consumer-oriented evaluation of plug in battery performance. It was intended to educate consumers on battery reliability and extended warranty purchase options, along with supporting industry-wide adoption of standard battery performance warranties.

Last year’s survey found that many Leaf owners were experiencing a high degree of stability and reliability. Along with that, the study clarified that ambient temperature seems to be the most significant factor in battery deterioration. Soon after release of the findings, Nissan announced a new battery warranty for Leaf owners. Nissan executive vice president Andy Palmer encouraged Leaf owners to read the Plug In America survey results.

More people own Leaf than Roadsters, but the Roadsters have been on the road longer. The expensive Roadster electric sports car (which started at $109,000) was launched nearly three years before the Leaf, in 2008. About 2,500 Roadsters were sold through 2011, and Roadster owners have had a lot of experience behind the wheel. While the Leaf and Chevrolet Volt were lauded for returning EVs to the market following the limited number built by major automakers in the 1990s, the Tesla Roadster actually opened the door for EV commercial production.

Roadster owners are encouraged to visit the Plug In America website and take the survey. Like the Leaf survey, most of the questions focus on the battery pack’s performance and the influence of determining factors – time and mileage in use; how it compares to owner expectations; how well the Roadster’s active thermal management protected the battery pack in hot and cold weather; and distinctions between those who’ve experienced the different versions of the Roadster – 1.5, 2.0 and 2.5 and the mainstay Roadster compared to the Roadster Sport. There’s also a question dealing with what owners might expect when considering purchasing an extended warranty.

The survey project is led by Plug In America’s Chief Science Officer Tom Saxton. Along with this sort of real-world battery performance research, Saxton and the PIA research group conducted their first ever performance evaluation of charging station down time last year.

Related GalleryBrabus Tesla Roadster

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By Jon LeSage

Tesla adds replacement battery pack costs to price increase details

Price increases are common in the automotive industry so the recent $2,500 jump in prices for upcoming Tesla Model S vehicles wasn’t exactly a surprise. Still, most vehicle MSRPs don’t go up two-and-a-half grand, and so to explain why the price for the award-winning electric vehicle was so “high,” George Blankenship, Tesla vice president of worldwide sales and ownership experience, has written on the company blog with numbers and details.

For example, Blankenship says that inflation has gone up 8.75 percent since Tesla first mentioned a $57,400 base price for the Model S in 2009. Compared to a flat 8.75 price increase (which would be $5,000), the $2,500 jump could be seen as relatively reasonable. Even more reasonable is that anyone on the fence about a Model S can still order through the end of the year and get the current, $57,400 base price. There are other changes (heated front seats will now be standard, for example), which you can read about here, so you’re not just getting charged more.

There are also new warranty and battery replacement costs and options. On top of the included four-year, 50,000-mile warranty, you can buy a four-year, 50,000-mile extension for $2,500. You can also buy a extension to the prepaid Tesla Ranger program. Details on how, exactly, these extensions will work (e.g., what is the deadline to buy them?), have not been announced.

Perhaps the biggest surprises are the low costs for replacement batteries: $8,000 for the 40-kWh battery, $10,000 for the 60-kWh and $12,000 for the 85-kWh pack. It sounds like you will need to buy this “warranty” soon, and then it “will provide you a new battery anytime after the end of the eighth year.” We are curious to learn more about the math and expected rate of uptake on this, because it would be flatly shocking that an 85-kWh pack costs just $12,000, even eight years from now.

Canadians, your price increase for the Model S is $2,600 and Europeans will learn “very soon” what their new, higher costs will be. Actually, since Tesla has never announced the European Model S price, Tesla will “automatically deduct €1,700 (or the local equivalent in other countries) from the base price for everyone who has or makes a reservation by end of day on December 31, 2012…as long as they finalize their order within a reasonable, predefined timeframe after being invited to configure their Model S.”

By Sebastian Blanco

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