Its not much to look at, the 18650 battery, but when you unite about 7000 of them together you get the power to move a Tesla Model S nearly 500km on a charge, and from 0 to 100km/h in not much more than 4 seconds. Not bad.
But there are still issues:
1. The range needs to be higher to really meet most people’s long distance driving habits – say about 1000km on a charge.
2. The recharge time needs to be about as short as possible. A few minutes is what we are all used to right?
3. One battery is cheap but 7000 cost a lot! They also weigh a lot – about 500Kg. If they could weigh about half that we’d be looking at electric cars actually weighing quite a lot less than combustion cars
4. They don’t last forever. With care and temperature control you can get 1000 to 2000 recharge cycles before they battery capacity is too low (depends on how demanding you are frankly). 1000 cycles is about 200,000kms for me (I do about 200kms per day in the Roadster).
Ok, well, all these issues have been solved!
1. Recent publications from Northwestern University research teams have shown a 4x increase in energy density in Lithium Ion cells. This translates to a 2000km range in a current Model S. Problem SOLVED.
2. Recent publications from Rice University have shown that with the right kind of electrode in the battery recharge times can drop to 20 seconds! And you can charge the battery with no degradation in its characteristics.
With the right charging infrastructure you can blast-charge your car even quicker than you can refuel.
Of crouse, on the 20th of June (in 7 days time) we will hear from Elon Musk another way to charge as quickly as you can refuel, so this problem also looks to be SOLVED.
3. If we go back to the solution for point 1, instead of having 2000 km range, how about 1000kms and half the weight and cost of battery? Problem SOLVED.
4. Recent publications from German Investigators (Centre for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Württemberg) have shown that with careful adjustments to the chemical mix in Lithium batteries the lifetime fo the battery can increase to more than 10,000 recharge cycles. That translates to 1Mkm to 2Mkm which essentially means the battery will outlast the car! So when you buy your electric car you will not need to replace the battery ever. Problem SOLVED.
Ok, all these need to go from lab to road, but with companies like Panasonic and Johnston Controls, who have a stated goal of improving x5 battery performance in 5 years, working to bring improvements to market, it is just a matter of time.
And we’ve only just begun this electric car adventure. When all the clever people in BMW, Audi, VW, Toyota, GM, Ford etc. get into the field things are only going to accelerate.