Tesla plans to introduce a new type of battery for its Model 3 sedans that are both low-cost and have a long life. This new battery is set to be released in China later this year or in the beginning of the next year. These batteries will bring the price of EVs down to the level of gasoline models.
These new low-costs batteries are made to last for a million miles and were made with the cooperation with China’s Contemporary Amperex Technology Ltd (CATL). Tesla’s new and improved batteries will also be released eventually in later dates in other markets like North America. Tesla’s new batteries will use technologies such as low-cobalt and cobalt-free battery chemistries, and use chemical additives, materials, and coatings to reduce internal stress and make batteries to store more energy for longer periods.
Tesla currently produces nickel-cobalt-aluminum (NCA) batteries with Panasonic at a “gigafactory” in Nevada and buys nickel-manganese-cobalt (NMC) batteries from LG Chem in China.
“We’ve got to really make sure we get a very steep ramp in battery production and continue to improve the cost per kilowatt-hour of the batteries — this is very fundamental and extremely difficult,” Musk told investors in January. “We’ve got to scale battery production to crazy levels that people cannot even fathom today.”
Some of the advancement made by Tesla and CATL was from a lab that has been running by Jeff Dahn, a pioneer in the field lithium-ion batteries. Some of the contribution made by Jeff Dahn’s lab includes Chemical additives and nano-engineered materials to make lithium-ion batteries sturdier and more resistant to bruising from stress such as rapid charging, hence extending their life.
Tesla also plans to construct huge factories that use new high-speed, heavily automated battery manufacturing processes to decrease labor cost and production quantity. These factories will be called “terafactories” and will be 30 times bigger than the company’s “gigafactory” in Nevada.
Tesla also plans to recycle materials used for batteries like nickel cobalt and lithium.
In February Tesla was in talks with CATL to use their lithium iron phosphate batteries which don’t have any cobalt (Most expensive metal in EVs) in them. This company also has another way of packaging batteries cells called cell to pack which reduce both the cost and the weight of the batteries which is useful for Tesla. They also plan to supply Tesla in china with a new nickel manganese cobalt (NMC) which has a cathode with 50% nickel and only 25% cobalt.
Due to this the price of the batteries has changed drastically and has dropped, CALT’s cobalt-free lithium iron phosphate battery packs have dropped bellow 80$ per kWh with the cost of battery cells dropping bellow 60$. Their low-cobalt NMC battery packs are also dropping and are close to $100/kWh. For EVs to be able to compete with internal combustion vehicles, the price for battery packs should be around 100$ per kWh.
According to a battery expert named Shirley Meng with recycling key materials like cobalt and nickel, the price for NMC batteries could drop to as low as 80$ per kWh.
Note: All of these are according to the sources that have talked to Reuters and have yet to be confirmed by Tesla.
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