PHOTO CAPTION: J. B. Straubel at Tesla's Fremont, CA assembly plant.

Battery Performance Steadily Improving, Costs Declining

Tesla CTO J.B. Strauble and Better Place founder Shai Agassi stress the importance in battery costs and energy density at Cleantech Investor Summit .

Published: 11-Feb-2013

Tesla could have never created the Model S — it’s second-generation electric car that won Motor Trend’s car of the year award for 2012 — with battery technology from a few decades ago, said Tesla’s CTO and co-founder J.B. Straubel at the Cleantech Investor Summit last week. He explained, “The type of vehicle we can create is fundamentally different every time that tech [batteries] moves a little forward.”

While battery innovation appears gradual, the incremental leaps add up over time. Battery innovation is improving around 5 to 8 percent per year, which can deliver a doubling in core performance metrics every ten years, which is ultimately really “revolutionary” said Straubel. Because of the large size and heavy physical weight of batteries involved with electric cars, the impact of battery innovation on the design of the car can be even more significant than Moore’s Law has on some computing products, added Straubel.

For car design, “It’s almost as if the properties of steel were improving at a rate of 5 to 8 percent per year,” said Straubel.


Lola-Drayson B12/69EV

Batteries are made from carbon fibre similar to that used in aerospace and racing.

Ford Focus Electric chassis. 23kWh battery pack mounted in the rear.

Based on the price of the Focus Electric and size of the battery pack, Ford would be paying between $522 and $650 a kilowatt-hour for its electric-vehicle batteries.

IBM Almaden Research Center near San Jose, California, site of 500 Mile Battery effort.

Goal of effort is to develop lithium-air battery that can rival gasoline in energy density, making electric cars viable.


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