Tesla's super-secret battery roadmap, Master Plan, and other goodies
Ok, maybe it's not so secret... but still cool!J.B. Straubel, the Chief Technical Officer of Tesla Motors, recently gave a talk at the Southern California Energy Summit and I thought that some of the slides he used were quite interesting, so I thought it would be nice to look at some of the highlights.
First is the one above, which shows how different battery technologies have improved over time. Those who think that batteries aren't improving probably get that impression because most other electronics are improving so much faster (CPU, storage space, LCD screens, etc). But batteries have still doubled in capacity in 10 years, and if they can do that again, we'll have batteries that are definitely good enough for mainstream adoption. After all, the Model S is already more than good enough for almost everybody, all we need is to get the price down, which can be done via economies of scale (the whole point of the battery Gigafactory) and incremental improvements in battery technology.
Note how NiMH has plateaued. That's why we hope that Toyota's next generation of hybrids will use lithium-ion instead (they already do in their plug-in models, but not the regular hybrids).
The slide above is a clear representation of Tesla's Master Plan, which they've been quite public about since the very beginning. In fact, this blog post by Elon Musk from 2006 spells it out in great detail. As Musk wrote:
So, in short, the master plan is:
Build sports car
Use that money to build an affordable car
Use that money to build an even more affordable car
While doing above, also provide zero emission electric power generation options
Don't tell anyone.
I thought this one was interesting because it shows something that people don't talk about enough when they're looking at the pros and cons of electric cars. Everybody knows that electricity is cheaper than gasoline, but what they might not realize is that it's pricing is also much less volatile.
This means that if you budget X dollars per month for your transportation costs, you're a lot less likely to see that spike suddenly with electricity than with oil (such as after hurricane Katrina, or when a war in the Middle-East is declared, etc). And in the long-term, it's also a lot more predictable and stable.
Tesla has also been rapidly expanding its Supercharger network, as you can see on the maps above (they're for planned stations in 2015).
This slides hows how much power the Supercharger stations have been delivering to Teslas over time (remember, they are powered by renewable energy). Obviously as more EVs are sold and more stations are build, that number is growing rapidly.
These already impressive numbers should become truly mind-boggling when the mass-market Model 3 comes out in 2017-2018. All those miles that would otherwise probably be driven on gasoline or diesel will be clean!
Last but not least, here's a great one. This shows the surface area required to power all of the US transportation sector with solar power. This is a bit similar to the oldie but goodie: How Much Land to Power The Whole World with Solar?
And it wouldn't even have to take extra land. If most of those solar panels are on the roofs of houses, apartment buildings, commercial buildings, etc, it would just be making better use of space that we're already occupying!
While the SC Energy Summit talk doesn't seem to be available online, here's an older (by still recent) talk by JB for you to enjoy: