Do you know the reason the EV-1 never really took off? It was not because it was an electric car, or that GM hated the idea, or that everything about it was in many ways more practical. It was because the battery tech they were using was more than ancient.
GM initially used lead acid as the power source, and nickel-metal hydride was next in line. However, we all know the story that ultimately led to the demise of the car.
Decades later, we finally found a new hero, Elon Musk. He put an end to the dispute of having a viable electric car. With Tesla pushing the automotive market to rethink EV, battery technology has also needed to change drastically.
The new Tesla "tabless" battery proves that we are still searching for the ideal power source, but we are close. I want to share a few reasons why I like the Tesla battery and its contribution to a sustainable EV future.
The Tabless Battery Part One: Energy Density
The 4680 battery cell (it is a single unit) is 46mm wide and 80mm tall. The greater overall size allows for more electrical energy storage, 5 times the energy storage compared to the 2170 battery used in the production of the model 3 and Y.
So what does 5 times more energy storage mean? In short, the number one fear of a consumer has been "range anxiety, " or the fear of running out of power. This anxiety type is very different from that of running out of gasoline because those stations are everywhere.
Tesla has done amazing things with the supercharging network. A gas station on every corner curbs the anxiety better than a supercharger in strategic locations.
5 times more energy means less range anxiety and more drive time. It means fewer stops on a road trip and a more enjoyable experience.
The Tabless Battery Part Two: Improved Cell Structure And Design
What has held battery advancements back for a very long time is overthinking cell design and structure. With all the different variations of batteries out there, Tesla opted to refine an existing platform.
The 4680 battery is not only more prominent, but the internal structure is different. The laser patterned "shingles" offer a shorter path for electrons to flow. Even though you have a larger cell, you have a battery with more power both in and out, resulting in shortened charge time.
I am into the evolution of batteries so much because they are giving us a viable solution to transportation over petroleum products.
Solid-state batteries are still, in my opinion, the next big thing. Still, for now, the improvements made with this particular 4680 battery are getting us one step closer to a less petroleum-dependent environment.
I love the thought of one day having an ultra-fast car that charges in 10 minutes and can take me 1000 miles. That road is really not that far off.
Tabless Battery Part Three: Environmental Impact
One of the worst things about battery production is the environmental impacts. I agree; mining for cobalt and making batteries is a dirty business, but it does not have to be that way forever.
The good thing about the new 4680 batteries is they are less harmful to the environment. Telsa wants to eliminate the use of cobalt and make the battery at least 90% recyclable.
The actual process of producing the 4680 battery is less cumbersome. Pair that with water reduction efforts in the process, and you get a better battery that is big in savings.
The Tesla 4680 battery is a significant step in the right direction. I do believe that solid-state batteries are the more sustained answer. Still, I applaud Elon and the Tesla Team for taking the action required to make better batteries.
Right now these batteries are a viable solution until solid-state batteries can be produced commercially. According to Elon, in that time we may see this battery compete in the same bracket at solid-state. Time will tell.
That is all for today. Thank you for reading. I look forward to seeing you in the next article. Hydrogen What?
Check out this wild new battery tech that Tesla has and why it will forever change the auto industry.
Peter Neilson is an automotive consultant specializing in electric cars and hybrid battery technologies. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Automotive Service Technology from Weber State University. Peter can be reached on Linkedin and you can tweet him at The_hybrid_guy on Twitter. Find his page on Facebook at Certified Auto Consulting. Read more of Peter's stories at Toyota news coverage on Torque News. Search Toyota Prius Torque News for more in depth Prius coverage from our reporters.