Tesla Has Cheaper EV In Its Sights As California Announces Phase Out Of Petrol Power

Tesla and its enigmatic leader Elon Musk held a ‘battery day’ on September 22 and the event revealed new technological advancements that will, the company says, deliver a new battery cell providing a significant increase in range as well as reduction in the cost per kilowatt-hour (kWh). Together with some manufacturing and vehicle construction innovations, Tesla says they are looking at producing a $US25,000 ($AU35,000) vehicle.

The bigger cylindrical batteries – called the 4680 after its dimensions of 46mm by 80mm and which are placed together to form the battery packs – will, Tesla says, have a ‘tabless’ design making it easy to manufacture and improve its power-to-weight ratio. It will deliver five times the energy and six times the power over the previous cells and enable a 16 per cent increase in range as well as 14 per cent reduction in the per-kWh cost.

The company also revealed that the battery packs in future Tesla models would double as a structural feature, allowing for further weight savings, and that the company has plans to manufacture batteries in-house while also continuing to use the services of its current battery suppliers Panasonic, LG Chem and CATL.

Other innovations the company is working on include those regarding the materials used in battery cathodes and anodes, eliminating intermediate steps in production of those batteries and components, and developing new manufacturing processes for the vehicles (including the structural battery feature) that will lead to simplifcation of the vehicle build.

Together, these innovations will, the company says, deliver a 56 per cent reduction in the per-kWh cost and up to a 54 per cent increase in range.

Seeing the benefits of all these innovations will take a bit of time as they are perfected and implemented – maybe up to three years.

“To be clear, it will take us probably a year to 18 months to start realising these advantages and, to fully realise the advantages, probably about three years of thereabouts,” said Musk at the Battery Day event. “ . . . We are confident that, long term, we can design and manufacture a compelling $25,000 electric vehicle.

CALIFORNIA TO PHASE OUT PETROL POWER BY 2035

The EV industry received a boost at the end of September when the Governor of California, Gavin Newsom, issued an executive order requiring sales of all new passenger vehicles to be zero-emission by 2035.

According to a media release from the Governor’s Office, The California Air Resources Board will develop regulations to mandate that 100 per cent of in-state sales of new passenger cars and trucks are zero-emission by 2035 – a target the state government says would achieve more than a 35 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and an 80 per cent improvement in oxides of nitrogen emissions from cars statewide. In addition, the Air Resources Board will develop regulations to mandate that all operations of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles will be 100 percent zero emission by 2045 where feasible. To ensure needed infrastructure to support zero-emission vehicles, the order requires state agencies, in partnership with the private sector, to accelerate deployment of affordable fueling and charging options.

It also requires support of new and used zero-emission vehicle markets to provide broad accessibility to zero-emission vehicles for all Californians. The executive order will not prevent Californians from owning petrol-powered cars or selling them on the used car market.

“This is the most impactful step our state can take to fight climate change,” said Governor Newsom. “For too many decades, we have allowed cars to pollute the air that our children and families breathe. Californians shouldn’t have to worry if our cars are giving our kids asthma. Our cars shouldn’t make wildfires worse and create more days filled with smoky air. Cars shouldn’t melt glaciers or raise sea levels threatening our cherished beaches and coastlines.”

California will be joining a number of countries that have committed to phasing out petrol-powered cars – including the UK which recently announced that it would bring forward its deadline for banning sales of fossil fuel vehicles from 2040 to 2030 – and the market and purchasing clout of the state will, no doubt, drive forward innovation in the EV sector.

Source: Motor Trader E-magazine (October 2020)

12 October 2020

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