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Is Model S going to use new version of Panasonic 18650 series battery?

It was said with 300miles range package, Model S is equipped with Panasonic NCR18650A which is a minimum 2.9AH lithium-ion battery. But Panasonic promised two different versions of this 18650A. Both versions will in-cooperate better production/construction of the battery without significant changes in the chemistry of the batteries. This will lead to a higher energy-density-to-volume but energy-density-to-weight will remain the same. The new battery, which is supposed to come out in March 2013, will have phenomenal 735wh/L. So will Model S be re-modeled with the new battery once they are available?

90kWh around 8000 batteries @3.6V makes single battery ~3.1Ah. That's the battery they will be using. There is a prototype for 3.4Ah battery, but that is probably not into market before 2013 or late in 2012. Panasonic is also developing batteries beyond 4Ah, so future for those battery packs looks promising.

Thanks Timo for the information. Yes, 90kWh around 8000 batteries @3.6V makes single battery ~3.1Ah is the 18650A I was talking about. This battery has a nominal 3.1AH and minimum 2.9AH which, as per Tesla, makes the 8000 batteries package a 85KWH one. The 4AH version, as per Panasonic, will become available in March 2013. This battery, if used in Model S, will introduce more weight to the sedan, but a 1/3-longer range if Tesla does not modify the battery packaging. This 400 miles range gives me a car with far more usability as I make trips between Toronto and Ottawa quite often. 300 miles can barely get me there.

400 would be enough for me too. Distance I need is pretty exactly 600 km and 400 * 1.6 is 640. Not much error margin though. I would need to see actual distance curves like there is for Roadster before buying such thing (or a fast charger somewhere between home and destination). Also it doesn't allow any battery degradation, so maybe 500 miles is better bet for me (or that fast charger which doesn't exist yet).

Tesla can't bank a battery that's still in development, because it might not deliver. Right now they need a battery that is ON the market (or at least out of prototype phase) to use in their builds and tests.

That said, the future does look promising for 500 mile plus battery packs a few years down the road with direction panasonic is galloping towards.

I am just casting my own thoughts. Based on the recharge time of a pure electric car, a longer range would probably be desirable than a regular gas powered car. See, most people CAN get through driving 600 miles straight. Once I drove for 1400 miles straight, but that was a bit of insane of me. We would not expect this to happen on an electric car. But I would still suppose a nominal 600 miles range would make this electric car much more realistic. 'cause 500 miles or 800KMs is a reasonable range between cities as we live on such a big land mass, and we need some error margin though. A 400 miles range car will still lead me to rent a gas powered car if I'd like to have a longer car trip somewhere. I don't want to run out of power in the middle of nowhere and wait several hours for a towing truck.

Hopefully fast chargers will soon be available along major freeways at least once every 100 miles or so. If it does happen 300 miles is really as much as one will need. Anything more would probably not be worth the additional expense given the minimal increase in convenience.

If you were travelling that far, and found yourself 200 miles short of your goal with 100 miles of charge left, you would just need to phone ahead to the towing company or Auto Assoc. and tell them where you plan to run out of juice so they could have their truck there waiting for you.

Ain't the digital world wunnerful?


Agree with jfeister. It will be a very long time before 400 and 500 mile battery packs make any economic sense. With recharge outlets along the major interstates, 300 miles is more than enough, and 250 would do for practically everyone, since long distance travel is relatively rare. Recharges of 45 minutes make the outlook for larger battery packs rather dim, unless batteries come WAY down in price.

Before you call a tow truck, try the "recargo" app or I was at the Portland Model S event yesterday and one of the reps was talking about the app. After downloading the app, I discovered about 10 recharging stations withing 3 miles of our event. There are more charging stations than you think, and a quick charge takes about 45 minutes. Also, the recharging cables are built into the station, so you're not using your $1500 cable.

Thx guys for the input

warthog97: Thanks for the info on charging stations. I heard that too at the Portland event, but I forgot to ask for the the web address.

Just read that Panasonic developing 4.0AH 18650 due out in 2013.

4Ah will be for the sport version : more expensive but able to be sucked hard :)

I agree with nicu, the 4.0 will likely be used in a sports version and the model x. Maybe future model s.

Actually they had announced prototyping 4.0 about 6 months ago. This is good news that it will reach production.

Even if a battery with that kind of range did exist, it'd be cheaper to just rent a ICE the one or two times a year that you need to make such a long trip, rather than pay for such a huge battery.

Who says that battery price increases? That's still just single cylindrical cell, just about twice the capacity of the Roadster battery. It doesn't cost any more to make those than it takes to make the lesser batteries.

Roadster with those would have 500 mile range. If I had chance to buy EV I would choose the one with 500 mile range over 300 mile version. And I would be doing over 300 mile trips a lot more than twice a year.

The other option is to use fewer cells for the same charge/range. That would lighten the car and increase mileage, and thus add more range than the simple charge ratio might suggest.

And also increase performance, when half of the pack is gone (instead of 450kg you have 225kg pack). That kind of weight loss would feel in cornering and acceleration.

I disagree with the notion that charging is the solution over longer range battery packs. Maybe these people don't make long trips very often, but there are a lot of people that do, and while the fast charging is nice, 45 minutes is still a long time. I think the best thing to do is to increase the range as much as possible. Obviously you won't be able drive across the country on one charge, but it would be nice to be able to drive at least 6hrs straight on one charge. Keep in mind that when making long trips you are most likely going to be on highways going at speeds of 60-80mph, so you'll need more than a 420 mile pack to get 6hrs of driving. The range of the pack is based on a mix of city and highway driving, so if you doing straight highway for 4+ hrs your range is going to be reduced quite a bit. I would probably be comfortable with a 500+ mile pack, which I realize will take some time, but I have time to wait.

Hey, if the Stanford & MIT guesstimates of 10X the charge capacity for some of their new nano-cathode/anode designs and internal "banding" hold up, you might end up with a car with 4000 mi range, enough to go coast-to-coast and home again!

That was few years ago, now it is more like 5x capacity (when that silicon nanowire was introduced we were at around 100Wh/kg densities, now there are batteries already at labs with 500Wh/kg). Power density probably could go like 100x in couple of years though.

Advances in mass manufactured batteries are very very slow. We are about 4x in a century for the power density. We are not going to see 10x in less than a decade by any tech. If you want to get more education (and bearish views on Tesla), I recommend to read some of the blog entries of John Petersen

Sorry, that would be energy density.

I started reading through your reference:

I don't know where this guy is coming from, but the first table shows something crazy:
He assumes 12,500 miles per year for 10 years for 125,000 miles. Then he says the Roadster's battery pack is 56kWh. Fine. But then he divides the two, and claims that because the Roadster has more battery capacity than a Camry Hybrid, the Camry is therefore more efficient than a Roadster.

I think the guy must have failed whatever science courses he ever took, and is trying to make a name for himself by making up calculations. Does he really think the Roadster would be more efficient if it had 1/10 the battery capacity?

@Nicu, it doesn't look like that advances in mass-production battery tech is slow. Look at the pace Panasonic is keeping up. In just three years we have come from Roadster 2.1Ah batteries to 3.7Ah batteries, and next step is already ready for next year (4.0Ah). That's just four, maybe five years to nearly double the capacity. If the pace stays the same we have that 10x batteries in less than next five years (we are already way higher than we were when Standford released that silicon nanowire article).

Thing is that just about everything that runs on rechargeable batteries from mobile phones to emotor assisted bicycles is now using lithium-ion tech, and whatever manufacturer has best batteries is the market leader, which causes real "arms race" for them. When there is potential to improve as much as there is and free market is giving the motivation development is fast.

Batteries are currently developing fast. It would be fast even with zero development in electric cars, but now the tech is allowing us to have decent electric cars, and that is one major player more in the field of battery development motivators.

J.P. looks at the problem from a different point of view. He says that Li-ion batteries use large quantities of non ferrous metals which are scarce (production which is 2-3 orders of magnitude less than oil). So he compares (in one of the articles) how much gas one cans save per kWh of battery used in the car (as batteries are / will be scarce). He concludes that the Prius or other hybrids are more a more efficient use of batteries (from a global point of view, if we only had a definite amount of total supply of them).

4Ah will be heavier so it's not quite 2x improvement. They will also be more than 50% (or so) of the theoretical limit of the chemistry. So assuming even another 2x improvement would be silly. Of course there will be other chemistries, but they will come with their own problems (cycle life, price, safety, manufacturing etc.). The global problem of green transportation is much more complex than one could think reading only Tesla's website. BTW, when reading the "go electric" efficiency page, I spotted some "errors" that Tesla just "forgets" to mention : they only consider electricity from natural gas even if we know the actual mix is quite coal heavy in US; they forget to mention there is a loss while charging (only consider well-to-station, not well-to-tank / battery); they forget to mention there is a loss from station to your house electric outlet; they use an over-optimistic 9 km / kWh (or 110 Wh / km) which a simple computation shown does not even hold for the Roadster, let alone for the heavier Model S.

All that said, I think both the Roadster and Model S are a step in the right direction - I am quite heavily invested in TSLA calls and I hope to buy a Model S with some of the profits. But the road to oil independence and green transportation will be much harder and slower than most think. Why do you think the blue star has "slipped" from 2015 to 2016-2017 (some recent interview / article) ?

Silicon (which Panasonic isn't using) is the one with 10x capacity max, and that is only matter of changing chemistry. I bet they are researching it right now, because as I said whoever leads the tech is the market leader. If chemistry change is needed to provide that leadership they do it, and they do it ASAP. This is not a century of lead-acid techs with just few applications, this is modern pace with zillion applications pushing the tech and several major steps in material sciences making it possible to get it better. Old rules do not apply anymore. Nanotechs are revolutionizing everything.

Completely different situation than it was just 15 years ago. Battery powered drill for example was rarity then. Now those are everywhere. Electric law movers. Electric bikes. Mobile phones, digital cameras, laptops, even wireless keyboards and mouses.

I don't think my estimate of five years with x6 of the Roadster battery density is optimistic. It might actually be higher than that by then.

We'll see. Lets wait for few years to see what happens.

Roadster 2.1Ah batteries were one generation old in 2006. Thus probably came out in 2004. The 4.0Ah is coming out in 2013.

The math equals a doubling time for w/kg of longer than ten years.

I hope that progress continues exponentially.

Nicu: Thanks for the clarification, but as Timo implied, his calculation is based on today's chemistry and assuming that the whole world will be racing forward to use up all the lithium (or other limited resource). What would he say if someone invented a battery that continually recycled his favored petroleum products, or, perhaps simpler, water to its constituents?

His is an interesting argument, but it's not clear it will hold up.

I actually battle J.P. on his blog for being too pessimistic. But he worked in the industry (energy / bio fuels/ nano tech / batteries / energy storage / mining / oil) for 30 years. And his experience tells him that 99% of new tech discovered in labs do not make it to the market. And for those 1% that do, it takes decades. We are a bit fooled by the progress of processors and digital gizmos, but batteries are ruled by chemistry laws, not physics. For example, nanotech in Li-ion, only improves the power density, not the energy density (more surface for electrodes for exchanges). Mass manufacturing is incredibly hard. Metal prices have increased faster than oil prices historically.

So there are many speed bumps and traps but I still remain optimistic that solutions will be found. Just not so fast as we think.