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..
Cabe, I will be right after you to buy the $20K car if taxes not matter for me,
Normally tax rate will be 350% and the India it will be within 350% to 450% of the original price of the vehicle. I believe that government should provide a tax reduction at least for the hybrid vehicles in order to promote those over the gasoline vehicles.
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?
Once again, Mr. Murray has not missed an opportunity to bash and spread skepticism on a new, sustainable technology that may represent the biggest cultural and economic revolution since the cheap gasoline boom arrived 100 years ago (which has ended but succeeded in locking in the infrastructure we now have). You seem to pretend that Tesla car introductions are standing still or going backwards from, say, the GM EV-1. Maybe the progress of EVs is slow, but it is happening.
So OK, we got it: Battery technology is improving at a slower pace than ICs. That is so not profound. You will look silly and oddly pessimistic--especially for a technology writer(!)--when EV prices inch down toward more mainstream transportation and their range creeps up to be practical even for people who inexplicably think they need hundreds of miles of range instantly on tap. (How many people really need to drive more than 200 miles/day, anyway?) This is happening at a pace that is accelerating, even if slowly.
If EVs were to stop progressing entirely, we would still have an American made sedan that will outperform virtually any European sedan at comparable purchase cost and a fraction of operational costs, and with very little infrastructure tweaks can do so without using hardly any non-renewable or hydrocarbon fuels. And it's outselling those cars! But of course all the right-wing nuts on this board will jump in with various non sequiturs, such as stating that no such car is "practical" and that there's no transportation problem that can't be solved simply by more drilling everywhere, if Obama would just let them.
it's in the battery. Moore's law is irrelevant. a step change in electrical energy storage performance is necessary to make EV's more useful. why must people politicize this?
On that fine day, when battery tech makes that leap, great, more EV's will likely be sold. in the meantime, the market for EV's will remain open to the niche buyer and the incremental improvements made by Tesla will help satisfy them with their luxury item purchase.
if Tesla and others can drive the cost down of an EV model with operating features (like range and reasonable recharge time) that make sense, they'll have more buyers and more EV's to justify the infrastructure changes necessary. let's wait and see.
like it or not, the average buyer will ultimately decide if an EV is worth having and there are plenty of fossil-fueled options to contend with.
You're right, RogueMoon, the average driver will make the ultimate decision, largely on the basis of his or her pocketbook. When a consumer sits down at a dealership desk and makes the decision to lay out $25,000, it tends to focus the mind.
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.
a.saji, it will use lane keeping assistance system (If the vehicle going out of the lane without driving, steering will vibrate and come back to the lane) and the two radar system to maintain the distance between other vehicles.
When it comes to energy savings in the automobile industry I believe that the Mercedes BlueEfficiancy tech is the best which focus not only the fuel consumption but also aerodynamics, weight, and much more. They were the first to introduce the eco start/stop function for the vehicle.
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.
Back in the '90's the GM EV1 was by all rights a very good EV and loved by all who were able to get a lease for one. Fast forward 20 years or so and here we have another arguably better but still really expensive EV. One thing that can be said for the Teslas is they're less likely to be recalled and crushed.
Just because you can make something really well for a lot of money doesn't mean it will be a success as a retail product. In this case even if the car were free, the cost of the battery alone exceeds what most people pay for an ICE car. The question is if their business model can outlive the development cycle of a cost effective battery. There's only so many of these cars they're going to sell before they've saturated the $100K a copy EV car market.
Chuck, Excellent article. But Tesla has still accomplished something very noteworthy, gaining this much attention to their technology. A more practical goal will probably be to move their price targets down to the $70,000 level and continue their quest. But I agree, ultimately battery performance will be the most important factor. Thanks.
Apresher i agree with you that Tesla has done a wonderfull job in development of this car but obviously $90,000 car is not affordable by everyone because its a luxury car , The most important thing done by Telsa will be to reduce the charges without having impact on battery and milage covered .
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