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Probability of new battery tech?

Discussion in 'Battery Discussion' started by Johan, Feb 12, 2012.

  1. Johan

    Johan Took a TSLA bear test. Came back negative.

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    For starters: I have reserved a Model S but now also a Model X. I'm not getting the Model S (but keeping the reservation as long as possible in order to get a test drive as soon as that's possible here where i live - Norway). The X just makes so much more sense - AWD (crucial in our long winters), more family oriented. The big draw-back of course: 1 year (at least) longer wait! That sucks.

    But when thinking of the longer wait maybe there's an upside, i.e: maybe a new battery tech is introduced and the best battery may not be 85kW but rather 100+ kW??? How probable is that? I know that the Model S uses the Panasonic NCR18650 cells. I know the cells used in the Roadster were 2200 mAh (3.7 V) and we know that resulted in a 53kW battery. Now i know the Model S/X platform is larger and hence a larger battery but the big change is the new type of Panasonic NCR18650 celles used: 3100 mAh (3.6 V) and we all know this gives us an 85 kW battery. Now think of the time passed from the Roadster to the Model S. And think of the fact that the latest Panasonic NCR18650 cell is not the 3100 mAh but one that is 4000 mAh rated at 3.7 V. Tesla has not gone for this new cell in the Model S I guess since it's so new and it's not just like you pop another cell in the battery pack and then you have a new, better, pack. But it a way it's like that, isn' it?

    (Those who want proof of the 4000 mAh cell can check this link: http://www.amazon.com/UltraFire-Protected-4000mAh-Rechargeable-Batteries/dp/B006OHO9I2 where theyu're selling small packs with this cell, for use in flash-lights, lasers and such.

    So, it's inevitable that the packs will continue to evolve, and it would seem that Tesla has a good partner in Panasonic and I wouldn't expect them to switch, since Panasonic seem to be at the forefront of battery tech. The the question is how likely is it that once the Model X (and maybe also the Model S 2.0) is produced in another 1.5-2 years time will there be 4000 mAh (or even more) in each cell? If you switch out a 3100 mAh cell with a 4000 mAh cell rated at almost the same voltage it gives an aproximate 110 kW pack (disregarding any weight difference)!
     
  2. dpeilow

    dpeilow Moderator

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    Actually the Panasonic 4Ah cell is supposed to be 3.4V. So this could be better. They need to change the name though...
     
  3. Johan

    Johan Took a TSLA bear test. Came back negative.

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    Yes, quite confusing when the just keep the same name (NCR18650) with every new version. Also, are you implying that lower voltage is better in some way? Maybe in regards to degradation/cycle life but I'm sure not when it comes to total energy storage (V*A=W)?
     
  4. dpeilow

    dpeilow Moderator

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    No, the other way around. But of course, longevity is another factor.
     
  5. Johan

    Johan Took a TSLA bear test. Came back negative.

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  6. Johan

    Johan Took a TSLA bear test. Came back negative.

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    Though these are not Panasonic batteries and so I suppose you're right it's rumored the Panasonics will be only 3.4V. Probably they're better and safer and better life than the ones currently out there at 4Ah.
     
  7. Doug_G

    Doug_G Lead Moderator

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    From a business standpoint, it makes sense for the S and X packs to be identical. I really doubt they will change anything unless it applies to both vehicles.
     
  8. Johan

    Johan Took a TSLA bear test. Came back negative.

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    I agree. But it's only logical that at some point a Model S with a better battery will be sold, and if it's motsly about the cells in the pack then it should be pretty easy to just "from one day to the next" start producing cars with a new battery capacity? So how likely is it that this will occur at/before that start of production of Model X?
     
  9. stopcrazypp

    stopcrazypp Well-Known Member

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    #9 stopcrazypp, Feb 12, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2012
    The "Panasonic NCR18650" is only 2900mah. The 3100mah version is called "NCR18650A". The 3400mah and 4000mah versions don't have an official name yet.
    http://industrial.panasonic.com/www-cgi/jvcr21pz.cgi?E+BA+4+ACA4001+4++WW

    Production schedule is like this:
    3100mah
    2010 cell production start -> 2012 Model S 85kWh
    3400mah
    2012 cell production start -> 2014 in production vehicle at the earliest?
    4000mah
    2013 cell production start -> 2015 in production vehicle at the earliest?
    http://www.greencarcongress.com/2009/12/panasonic-20091225.html?cid=6a00d8341c4fbe53ef0120a77d3df9970b

    Given the quotes taken at the unveil (that the Model X will use the same 60kWh and 85kWh packs as the Model S), I find it unlikely Tesla will do a cell upgrade for the Model X (or Model S in the near future). After all, they didn't do a cell upgrade for the Roadster for so many years, despite the technology having advanced very far since then. It's more cost effective to use older cells (plus there is less risk of reliability/quality issues, since they would have been in the consumer market at least for 2 years or more).

    My personal prediction is the earliest point where they might use different cells is in the Bluestar (although not necessarily the high density ones, just ones suitable for the pack size). I suspect the newest high density cells will be reserved for the next gen Roadster (which will come after Bluestar according to recent reports).

    Those are "Ultrafire" cells, not Panasonic. Under 1A draw, those "4000mah" Ultrafire cells only measure less than 2000mah in capacity (less than half of claimed capacity). Panasonic cells on the other hand tend to measure at claimed capacity or very close:
    http://laserpointerforums.com/f67/18650-battery-comparison-sanyo-2600mah-vs-ultrafire-4000mah-64339.html
     
  10. doug

    doug Administrator / Head Moderator

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    I'm pretty sure he meant the name "UltraFire" for a Li-ion battery.
    41o0JORObWL.jpg
     
  11. dpeilow

    dpeilow Moderator

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  12. WhiteKnight

    WhiteKnight _____ P85 #549 _____ Sig Red / Sig White

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    I'm not sure why there would be a two year lag from the start of commercial production to the ability to appear in a production vehicle. Presumably Tesla is already working with 4.0 Ah cells in their laboratory.

    In the article you quote it says production of 4 Ah cells will start in Fiscal 2013 which ends in March 2013 (which means it begins March 2012) so if they are going to start producing them this year maybe even if it takes two years they can have them by 2014.

    Assuming that the 2014 Model S and Model X both have 3.1 Ah (existing technology) and 4.0 Ah cells in their battery packs, I would assume that Tesla would adopt a strategy from Apple's playbook and rather than lower prices they would simply increase the range. So they would sell 60 kWh / 85 kWh / 105 kWh models with 230 / 300 / 390 miles of range.
     
  13. stopcrazypp

    stopcrazypp Well-Known Member

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    #13 stopcrazypp, Feb 12, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2012
    The lag is so the initial issues can be worked out and the batteries are at least somewhat tested in the consumer market. One of the biggest reasons for choosing 18650s is because they are tested by the consumer market.

    I think you guys are way too optimistic about the aggressiveness of Tesla in upgrading batteries on the same model (or platform). Given Tesla's history with the Roadster (no battery upgrades between model year changes, only feature upgrades), I say that expectation is very unrealistic.

    I think they will minimize the changes on the Model S platform, so they can earn back some of the R&D money first. Buying more of the same batteries will only make them cheaper, which helps margins and makes it easier to reach the goal of building the Bluestar. Unless they can make the battery upgrade as a headlining feature (like 400+miles of range, esp. tied to the launch of a new model), I don't see more minor battery upgrades happening soon, esp. to the same model.

    And keep in mind the gravimetric density of the 4.0Ah (252Wh/kg) is not as good as the 3.4Ah version (265Wh/kg).
     
  14. Doug_G

    Doug_G Lead Moderator

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    I mostly agree with you, but also consider that the engineering focus was changing to Model S long before the Roadster was retired. About all we can say is that the Roadster launched in 2008 with one battery chemistry, and the Model S launches in 2012 with another. That's a four-ish year cycle. (Yes I know the Roadster was under development long before that, but so was the Model S.)
     
  15. brianman

    brianman Burrito Founder

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    I know it's probably different in Norway but...

    In the U.S., will all the general production S reserves be delivered before the first signature X? I haven't done the projection given the current reservation count for S. Maybe somebody else has.
     
  16. vfx

    vfx Well-Known Member

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    Just to play DA for a moment. Don't forget, changing batteries is yet another thing that will encourage new sales. Better - faster is right there win new trim and paint treatment in selling the next years fashion.
     
  17. Norbert

    Norbert TSLA will win

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    Tesla made it a point that the Model S battery cells are not laptop cells like the Roadster's. The 4.0Ah cells are probably laptop cells (or ?). I wouldn't be sure that Panasonic would announce the next-gen automotive cells far in advance, especially if it is developing them together with Tesla.
     
  18. GSP

    GSP Member

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    And not just new vehicle sales. If Tesla were to offer a Roadster pack with the new Panasonic cells (3100 or 3400 mAh), it would entice several roadster owners to upgrade. This could be a small revenue generator for Tesla.

    It also would be a huge feather in Tesla's cap, generating news (free advertising), and further destroying the myth that EVs are low range golf carts.

    GSP
     
  19. WarpedOne

    WarpedOne Supreme Premier

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    #19 WarpedOne, Feb 13, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2012
    No, forget it. Model X is launching with 85 kWh battery.
    Tesla must know and understand in detail how 8 thousand of those cell function under various circumstances. They need time to do all needed tests and studies. They have another year to test cells that just came out now. Warranty means hazard that they need to know as good as possible so they can charge enough to cover that warranty.

    Larger capacities will come with model upgrade after a year or two of production.

    Yes, problem is in the word small. Is it still big enough to be worth it or could those development resources be spent elsewhere with bigger ROI?
    IIRC development of roadster's battery pack cost about $5M. Sure, now it would cost less, I'd say about $1M (testing, testing, testing, validation and certification). How many roadster owners would pay say $15k for upgrade to 350 mile range? And how much would Tesla earn on each pack? If they earn $5k per pack replaced they would need to sell 200 to cover the investment. Another 200 sold would bring in another million. And then the opportunity for new sells starts to disappear. 1st gen roadster is and will remain to be a 250 mile EV.

    As long Tesla is selling cars two years upfront they do not really have a problem with public perception. Sure, it could be better, but for them it is good enough.
    Tesla Roadster owners might feel left behind, but there are 'only' few thousands of them and they are already very special and distinctive. If they need/want longer range, there is Model S waiting for them. And a 2nd gen roadster coming in a few years.
     
  20. Kevin Sharpe

    Kevin Sharpe Active Member

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    Agreed, I do not think Tesla will ever get around to upgrading packs because it does not make economic sense and I do not believe they intend to push the envelope with the Roadster.

    I'm going to put some money and effort into 3 Phase support and Type 2 "mennekes" conversion for when my Roadster is out of warranty. I've also been thinking about having a battery upgrade produced as well.... anyone interested in getting involved then let me know.
     

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