Electric auto maker Tesla Inc plans to introduce a new low-priced, long-life battery in its Model 3 sedan in China later this year or early next that it expects will bring the cost of electric vehicles in line with gasoline models, and allow EV batteries to have second and third lives in the electric power grid.
Tesla has been working with Chinese battery giant Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Tesla is also looking into using recycled metals like nickel, cobalt, and lithium, and it will use CATL's exclusive, low-priced way of packaging battery cells. The move could help lower Tesla's production costs by weaning the company off expensive cobalt-based batteries. It then plans to roll it out to other vehicles and markets, and ultimately produce batteries with new manufacturing processes that are meant to bring down labor costs while raising output volume, at so-called "terafactories" that would span up to 30 times the space of the current Tesla Gigafactories, including the one in Nevada. Ordinarily, automakers, including Tesla, point to lifetime fuel savings and tax incentives provided by local, state and federal governments as mitigating factors that mean the lifetime cost of an EV is equal to or less than that of a gas auto, but if Tesla's new battery tech can change the dynamics so that the price on the sticker is also lower than a gas vehicle, that would be a significant driver of broader EV adoption.
Add it all up, and Tesla is clearly focused on scaling battery production and improving the cost per kilowatt-hour of the batteries. The lab has been run since 1996 by Jeff Dahn, a pioneer in the development of lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles and grid storage.
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Among the critical contributions from Dahn's lab: Chemical additives and nano-engineered materials to make lithium-ion batteries tougher and more resistant to bruising from stress such as rapid charging, thus extending their life. For example, Dalhousie University has detailed a manganese cobalt oxide (NMC) crystal structure for battery cathodes that can resist wear over time.
Auto industry executives have said $100/kWh for battery packs is the level at which electric vehicles reach rough parity with internal combustion competitors.
Recycling and recovery of expensive battery materials is also part of the plan.
This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.