There is it one more time. An announcement for a new development from Elon Musk and Tesla Motors. We should be already used to these, but somehow the news keeps surprising us. A month ago, the CEO of the Silicon Valley upstart unveiled a new, more powerful battery pack that will boost performance in Tesla’s electric vehicles.
Tesla’s New P100D Battery
With the new battery, the Model S P100D classifies as the third fastest accelerating car ever produced. Only LaFerrari and Porsche 918 Spyder have better acceleration, but considering their price and limited run, we can say that Tesla is a winner in its category.
Unlike the expensive two-seater sports cars, Model S P100D seats five adults (plus children) and has plenty of luggage space. This Model is also by far the longest range production electric vehicle. With approximately 315 miles (on the EPA cycle) on a single charge, it qualifies as the only EV with over 300-mile range so far.
Back when Tesla introduced the Roadster, drivers were able to enjoy a ride of a little over than 200 miles on a single charge. Next, the Model S with its 90kWh battery became capable of going close to 300 miles on a charge. Now, the innovative company has succeeded in fitting even more energy into the same size pack, using the same lithium-ion battery cells. Therefore, owners of older Tesla models will be able to upgrade their batteries to 100kWh, for a charge of $20,000. The used, 90 kWh pack, will be recycled. Moreover, the battery is available for Model X as well, making the world’s quickest SUV even faster.
EV batteries have become a serious issue in the industry.
According to experts, the battery is the deciding factor in the success of EVs on the mass market. For quite a long time, many believed that the battery was the most expensive part of an electric car. If manufacturers wanted the battery to be more powerful, it would inevitably change the shape of the cars and would add up to the weight.
Only in the past year, however, the price of EV batteries has declined by 35%. This drop in battery cost is another reason to believe that EVs will become cheaper than conventional vehicles by 2022. With the decrease in price and production costs of batteries, there is an ample opportunity to invest in performance and quality instead.
That’s exactly how Tesla engineers approached the creation of the new battery. They designed a whole new battery cell cooling system and rearranged the battery cell architecture and electronics. Hence, we shouldn’t’ be surprised when more powerful batteries start coming to the market. As Elon Musk said himself, the new 100kWh battery serves as proof that the limit of energy density in a battery pack has not been reached yet.
The biggest challenge now would be to know when to stop.
The denser a battery pack, the higher the chances of fire. Just like conventional cars, electric vehicles stand a chance of catching fire when their engines overheat. This is something Tesla would have to consider when designing a battery. Where is the trade-off between smaller battery size & passengers’ security? It would be Tesla’s task to assure its current and future customers that performance does not come in exchange for safety.
When introducing the new battery pack, Elon Musk emphasized the importance of sales for the success of EVs in the mass market. Indirectly referring to his Master Plan, he said that every sale of the models with the new battery is directly influencing the development of Model 3, the smaller and cheaper EV Tesla is working on. For now, the company will only offer the 100-kilowatt hour battery pack for its high-end cars. The new battery will only represent about 10% of production. The performance versions of the S and X without the new battery currently start at $108,000 and $115,500, respectively.
And since we’re talking about batteries, let’s give some attention to Musk’s latest announcement. The company plans to unveil a new solar roof in October 2016 in San Francisco. The Solar roof will integrate with the version 2.0 of Tesla’s PowerWall and the charger for Tesla automobiles.