Manufacturers closing in on EV range sweet-spot says Tesla
With electric vehicle (EV) manufacturers currently locked in an arms race to develop the most efficient long-range EV battery, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has made the claim that his company could produce a battery with a whopping 500 mile (805 kilometre) range right now.
However, Musk was quick to water down any hope of seeing such a battery in a Tesla vehicle anytime soon, pointing out the challenges that face all EV manufacturers when making such a battery.
“Technically we could make the 500 mile range car right now,” Musk said on a recent episode of the Daily Drive podcast.
“We would have to sacrifice … it would add cost and reduce cargo capability.”
For any manufacturer to crack the 500 mile barrier would require a much physically larger battery, which would require the overall size and weight of the vehicle to increase, and in turn, increase the amount of energy needed to move the vehicle.
With the current levels of technology and energy density of battery cells, this trade-off is simply not efficient at this point in time.
However, Musk did say that it was only a matter of time before technology improved to the point where the longer batteries would be cheap enough to put into vehicles.
“There are increases in the energy density at the cell level and at the pack level and improvements in the efficiency of the drive unit and the tyres and the drag coefficient and the parasitic effect of the HVAC system and other electronics in the vehicle.”
Musk also suggested that consumers wouldn’t necessarily demand a 500 mile range from their EV, believing many would be ok with a range much closer to 300 miles based on their travel habits.
“I think the goalposts are moving. I think 250 miles (402km) are currently acceptable for range.
“Over time that will become 260 miles, 270 and long-term I think 300 miles will be what people think is normal for an electric car.”
The possibility of battery range not being the end-all when it comes to EVs is not a new argument.
Ford Motor Company said recently that what their customers wanted out of their EVs was vastly different to their usage habits
“Range is a tricky one,” said chief of product development at Ford Hau Thai-Tang.
“When you ask them (customers), they will typically tell you they want 300 miles plus of range because that is what they are used to with their ICE vehicles.
“What they don’t recognise is they are carrying those batteries, that mass, that cost, that physical size around all the time and if they are only driving on average 17 miles per day, it’s a bit of just-in-case.”
If consumer habits were to remain steady, arguments for a shorter battery range would have its merits, particularly if it meant a substantial drop in the price of EVs due to the reduced cost of the battery.
Tesla currently holds the title of longest battery range among EV models, with the Model S Long Range sporting a 402 mile (674km) range.
However, Mercedes-Benz has claimed that their new EQS model due for release in late 2020 will top 700km.
Source: EV Central | Musk: ‘Tesla could do 500 miles now’
5 August 2020