Chuck, good article and good points. The battery chemistry problem is one that will be with us for a long time. It may not be solvable in a device we would recognize as a battery.
I like that you brought up the history of this thing as well. I have looked at the old magazines myself, and there are some other ideas that might be necessary to solve this problem. First, though, we have to understand that no new technology will be adopted unless it fills the need and is as convenient as the one it replaces. Think about what that entails when you are planning to replace liquid gasoline. If my car runs out of fuel I can walk to a gas station, fill a gallon container and then walk back and get going again. A can that is light enough to be carried by just about anyone will get me from 10 to 40 miles. The station where I fill that can (or my vehicle) up is relatively low tech. Now consider charging stations. The ones that can charge your electric vehicle quickly are realtively expensive. You still need to spend some time there. And they have to be just about everywhere.
One concept we see occasionally, and the is very old, is the quick replace station. That is, the battery would be replaced at a "filling station". This concept was developed when NiMH was the battery technology. The battery in the Tesla cars costs $40K and weighs about 900 pounds. This is not something you could easily replace. The cost and liability problems are not really solvable with current technology.
Frankly, I don't see Tesla being able to move to their mass market target unless they can move the technology needle on energy storage. Who knows?
200 mile battery in a $20k car, I would buy it instantly. When will this happen?
As battery materials become more scares, will prices really drop? It seems like battery tech is going the way of gasoline. A commodity with price fluctuation. At least the materials use in the battery are..
Good point about the history, naperlou. Over the past 25 years, virtually every promise has been overstated and broken. If we want, we can take the history all the way back to November, 1911, when The New York Times published an article saying that the battery was here and the electric car was about to make a comeback. What's the old saying about ignoring history? Those who ignore it are bound to repeat it?
Being able to compete with serious cars like Mercedes, BMW and Audi is certainly an impressive feat for Tesla S. Unfortunately, the chemistry behind all of it is still lacking behind the technology which powers the whole thing, like others have eloquently put in this blog post.
The article mentioned that battery technology is not growing as fast as computing performance in the electronics industry. It would be interesting to see the slope of the battery performance curve and the projections of when predicted battery performance would become economically feasible compared with existing fossil fuel technology.
At that price tag, it might as well still be a concept car.
I'm not sure I buy the trickle-down theory for technology in this case either. There isn't a revolutionary technology in the car this time (unlike the examples given in the article). There isn't anything to trickle down.
I like the idea of battery swapping, but that is going to require industry to settle on a standard.
It's to their advantage to do so, but in recent history getting companies to do so turns into a brand-name battle.
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